Green Line Update and Engagement Opportunities
City Administration recently revealed a new alignment for the Green Line LRT. I have concerns about the alignment and it proposes a number of significant changes from the route Calgarians were previously engaged on. We need you to take a look at the new alignment and provide feedback.
You can go straight to https://engage.calgary.ca/greenline to learn about the proposed changes, provide feedback, and sign up for future updates. If you want to read a quick overview and learn about my thoughts on the new alignment, continue on…
Cost and technical challenges forced the project team to recommend changes to the previous alignment to stay on budget and within our means to deliver. Here are the main proposed changes:
• Starting at 16 Av N, the Green Line now travels at-grade (on-street) along Centre St N through Crescent Heights. Previously, this was underground
• A bridge will carry the line over the Bow River to the Downtown. Previously, the train was underground below the river
• The Green Line will now run at-grade along 2 St SW through Eau Claire and Chinatown, before entering a tunnel in the Downtown. This was all underground previously
• As before, trains will run underground through the Downtown, below the CP Rail tracks, and through the Beltline. However, the line will now run below 11 Av SE, rather than 12 Av SE
• The Green Line would then emerge to run over the Elbow River and along the community of Ramsay at-grade, as it did before
• The stations at 16 Av N, Eau Claire/Chinatown, 7 Av SW, Beltline, and Victoria Park would remain, with some shifting only slightly in location
• No station is proposed for 9 Av N in Crescent Heights
• An improved Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) route would be added to run from 160 Av N to 6 Av S along Centre St N
Is this good or bad?
The new alignment could be done well, but I have significant concerns about the new route will interact with our communities. At this point, we only have the general alignment with lines of maps. Details about how the Green Line will actually fit into our communities would come at a later date and likely after the alignment is decided on. My main concerns, which align with what I hear from most residents and stakeholders, break down into three areas:
1. How does the Green Line treat Centre St N in Crescent Heights?
An at-grade Green Line in Crescent Heights could work well. After all, this is low floor LRT that integrates much better with established neighbourhoods and streets than our existing high floor LRT. It can be done. I have witnessed it first hand in other cities. However, it’s all about the details.
Crescent Heights residents consistently asked for the Green Line to help reconnect the two sides of their community, rather than make Centre’s east-west divide even worse than it is today. Ensuring maximum opportunities for safe walking and cycling crossings of Centre is key to reconnecting east and west Crescent Heights. This is not guaranteed by the current plan.
Centre St N is supposed to be a pedestrian-friendly Main Street and businesses recently set up a Business Improvement Area to support the local economy. We must use the Green Line as an opportunity to put back public spaces, and especially the sidewalks along Centre, better than before. Currently, it is frankly terrible to walk along Centre. The Green Line should help fix this with high-quality sidewalks, street trees, street furniture, bike racks, improved lighting, and other improvements. This is not currently in the plan but is key to supporting local businesses and the community.
A 9 Av N station was originally planned but then cut when the underground alignment made the station cost prohibitive. Now that the train will be at-grade, the station is more cost-effective and should be back on the table. Crescent Heights residents initially had differing opinions about a 9 Av N station, but I am concerned that not having a station will treat Crescent Heights as a through route for commuters, rather than as a community and a destination in and of itself. A 9 Av N station would serve more Crescent Heights residents, benefit local business, and bring reinvestment to this area of Centre.
2. What about the bridge over the river?
I have always been hesitant about a bridge over the Bow River. It could be beautiful, but it could also be an eyesore that detracts from the incredible Centre Street Bridge. And what about how the bridge interacts with the McHugh Bluff, the Bow River, and Prince’s Island? These are some of our most important natural and park spaces. A bridge could be sensitive to them, but it could also substantially damage their natural and recreational qualities. We need to ask for more details and insist on high-quality bridge design if this option continues forward. There are no design details at this point and that worries me.
If we do go with a bridge, I would like to see a walking and cycling pathway included in the design. This would cost-effectively improve connections from northern communities into the Downtown and boost transportation choices for Calgarians. If you agree, be sure to provide that feedback.
3. How does the Green Line land in Eau Claire and Chinatown?
The new bridge would land close to the river and could impact the river pathway and/or Prince’s Island. I am very concerned about how this will be done and there are no design details at this point. Prince’s Island is our premier park and we need to ensure it stays a beautiful and natural space for all Calgarians to enjoy. The river pathway is one of our most popular public spaces. It supports commuting and recreation for thousands of Calgarians every day. If there are impacts to the pathway, we must ensure the pathway remains open and desirable. We need more design detail before we can say whether or not this will work.
Details are still come on how the train travels through Eau Claire and Chinatown, but having the Green Line at-grade on 2 St SW could affect streets access for walking, cycling, and driving. It could also affect the desirability of residential and office buildings in the area. We are working to attract more people to live in this area, fill vacant office spaces, and address the drop in property values in the core, we need to be very mindful about how the Green Line could take us closer to or further from realizing those objectives.
And the rest of it?
The Green Line would still travel underground through the Downtown and connect with the Red/Blue lines at 7 Av SW. There are no other options. It would then travel a slightly different route through the Beltline, but this section appears to still capture the intent of the previously approved alignment.
What’s this about a BRT?
The Green Line team is proposing to improve BRT service along Centre St N in advance of future Green Line expansions to the north. This line would run from 160 Av N to 6 Av S and would include a number of changes including improved shelters/stops, better lighting, real time travel displays, transit priority signals, and street design changes to support faster and more reliable bus travel.
Even today, more people take transit on Centre St N than drive. Traffic volumes on Centre have also been in decline for decades and are now lower than volumes in 1964. We should prioritize bus travel on Centre and the City needs your thoughts on how best to do so.
In person engagement events will happen in late February and early March. Be sure to sign up online to be notified of the dates:
In March 2020, the updated alignment for the Green Line will appear before the Green Line Committee that I and other Councillors sit on. I am very concerned about this short timeframe for engagement and have consistently asked for more substantial engagement, particularly given how much was done before we decided on the original alignment. With such fundamental changes, people need time to be able to review and comment on the new alignment. However, this is the timeframe we are given.
If you care about how the Green Line will go through and shape our communities, please go online to review the new alignment and provide feedback. This is your opportunity:
Categories: Green Line LRT