Ward 6 - Richard Pootmans

FAQ: Bow Trail / Sarcee Trail U-Turn Project


Why is a U-turn Lane being constructed on eastbound Bow Trail?

The intersection of Bow Trail and Sarcee Trail is one of the most congested signal-controlled intersections in Calgary. Bow Trail is an important connection to the downtown core. Once the West Calgary Ring Road (WCRR) is completed, Bow Trail may see an increase in traffic. 

The Bow Trail interchange at WCRR will be the only interchange that facilitates all turning movements on/off the WCRR.

The U-Turn movement should work seamlessly with the Bow/Sarcee Trail S.W. intersection and help to improve operations there.  Additionally, it will help to reduce some of the congestion at the Bow Trail/Sarcee Trail S.W. intersection and will provide residents from Strathcona Hill a more direct connection to northbound Sarcee Trail.  It should reduce their trip time by 2-5 minutes. Most importantly, the movement will be safe. 

The U-Turn movement will not solve all of the problems at the Bow/Sarcee Trail intersection.

Congestion, delay and traffic queuing will still be heavy at all times of the day; however, the U-Turn movement will help to improve intersection operations. More improvements are required to address remaining congestion issues. The particulars of what those issues are, and the improvements required, are being reviewed.

How will the vehicle making the U-turn be able to get over to the far-right lane without compromising the traffic in the other lanes? 

The U-Turn movement will be a fully protected, signalized movement. Vehicles will only be permitted to complete a U-Turn when given a green signal indication. Conflicting westbound traffic will come to a stop.

This U-Turn will allow revised signal timing at Bow/Sarcee Trail S.W. to provide more time to westbound traffic, thus reducing westbound queueing and congestion. This will minimize the chances that the U-Turn movement will run into the back of the westbound queue from Bow/Sarcee Trail S.W. 

If the westbound queue does back up to the U-Turn intersection, there are currently four westbound receiving lanes. The U-Turning traffic will want to turn into the outside (fourth) lane, so they should not conflict with Bow Trail traffic that is travelling westbound through the Sarcee Trail S.W. intersection. 

In the event the westbound traffic queue backs up to the U-Turn, and there is a bus stopped in the fourth lane, then the U-Turn will likely be delayed a few extra seconds until the bus or other traffic starts moving.

Is this U-Turn safe with a pedestrian crosswalk nearby?

The U-turn Lane will be constructed approximately 30 meters west of the pedestrian signal in the existing median, and the stop bar for the U-turn movement will be 30 meters away in relation to the pedestrian crosswalk.  With the U-turn movement set back 30 meters, visibility of pedestrians crossing at the crosswalk will not be impeded by U-turning traffic. 

When a pedestrian activates the pedestrian signal, both eastbound and westbound Bow Trail traffic will have to come to a complete stop for pedestrians. Our Traffic Signals group will review signal timings for the pedestrian crosswalk to ensure there is adequate time to cross the roadway.

Will the pedestrian lights remain intact?

The existing pedestrian lights will stay at the same location. The City’s Traffic Signals group will review signal timings for the pedestrian crosswalk to ensure there is adequate time to cross the roadway.

Will the pedestrian cross walk lights come on and stop the Westbound traffic so that the U-turning vehicle can make the turn? 

If no pedestrians are present, when the U-Turn signal comes on, eastbound through traffic will be given a green light as well. Westbound traffic will receive a red light. 

When pedestrians are present and activate the pedestrian crossing signal, both directions of vehicle traffic will come to a complete stop. After a few seconds during the pedestrian crossing phase, the U-Turn signal will also be activated; however, both eastbound and westbound through traffic will remain at a stop.

How long will the signal remain on, and how many vehicles will be able to make a turn in one session?

Signal timing details are still being determined, but it is believed that the U-Turn can accommodate up to 300-400 vehicles per hour with the amount of green signal time that will be provided. The westbound through movement will still receive approximately 75 per cent of the total traffic signal cycle length, which will give the westbound movement much more time in total than what it gets at the Bow/Sarcee Trail S.W. intersection. The delay to westbound Bow Trail traffic will be minimal at the U-Turn intersection. 

The westbound movements at the U-Turn intersection and at the Bow/Sarcee Trail S.W. intersection will be coordinated, so we anticipate a noticeable reduction in delay for westbound traffic, particularly in the afternoon peak traffic periods.

How will this stop the U-turns at 45th street?

Numerous instances of vehicles driving eastbound through the Bow/Sarcee Trail S.W. intersection and making a U-turn at the 45 Street S.W. intersection have been observed.  If a U-turn lane is provided as proposed, then eastbound traffic will no longer have to travel to 45 Street in order to turn around.  This could have the added benefit of improving operations and safety at 45 Street S.W.

To view information as the project progresses or receive regular updates throughout construction there will be:

Project Website:

Operational and safety improvements project

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Categories: Operational & Safety Improvement Projects, Roads