5 Street S.W. Underpass Enhancement
Project update – October 2021
Lift station construction nearing completion
Upgrades to the 5 Street S.W. stormwater lift station are nearing completion. These improvements will help protect the downtown from future flooding.
10 and 11 Avenue S.W. construction begins
Construction on 10 and 11 Avenue S.W. began the week of June 7, 2021. Work includes widening sidewalks and realigning the cycle track to better match the work done on the underpass.
Construction on the east side of the street will be complete by early October 2021.
Detours for pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles may be required at times. Please follow all signage posted in the construction area.
Installation of the integrated art feature began in August 2021 and is scheduled for completion in fall 2021.
Visit calgary.ca/publicart for more information on the installation.
Landscaping has now been completed, including new grass and trees adjacent to the 5 Street S.W. underpass.
About the project
The 5 Street S.W. underpass offers a direct north-south connection between the communities of Beltline and Downtown Calgary. More than 43,000 people live and 161,000 people work in these two areas, where citizens come from all over the city to shop, dine, recreate and gather.
The design and construction include a number of improvements:
- Widen sidewalks to provide more space and improve mobility
- Upgrade crosswalks to meet current accessibility standards
- Provide space for trees and vegetation to make the underpass more enjoyable and increase the number of trees within the Centre City
- Improve lighting and safety measures
- Make existing cycle track pilot permanent, maintain cycle counter, and improve comfort for people waiting at intersections
- Narrow the traffic lanes within acceptable standards for vehicles, transit and goods movement
- Ensure that traffic signals meet current operational standards
- Make necessary life cycle improvements to the underpass walls and bridge
- Beautify the appearance of the underpass
- Remove the concrete median and redistribute the space for people walking trees/vegetation.
Improvements to this underpass, along with other underpasses connecting the downtown core with the Beltline, are part of major infrastructure investments to improve connections into Calgary’s downtown.
It is an important piece of The City’s Downtown Strategy, which supports and incentivizes private investment, generates visits and spending, and provides amenities and services to enhance the quality of life for people living and working in Calgary’s downtown.
Cycle track improvements
The new cycle track facility is separated by vertical curb to the adjacent traffic lane. The City’s current design standard does not require delineators in this condition. The cycling facilities are continually reviewed to ensure user safety and will be reviewed if additional delineators are warranted.
Background on design and public engagement
Since 2018, the project team has worked closely with the public and nearby stakeholders through a public engagement process, to formulate a clear vision and goals for the underpass. Our vision is to transform an ordinary space into an extraordinary experience. This vision is supported by three goals:
- improve options for travelling around downtown
- provide safe and comfortable connections
- improve the look and feel of the current underpass
Check out more of the project’s design and engagement history.
This enhancement project is part of the broader Centre City Underpass Enhancement Program, which aims to improve the pedestrian environment and connections between the Beltline and downtown Calgary, including cleaning up and brightening existing underpasses.
Through a Request for Proposal (RFP) in 2017 an artist and design team were hired. The design team (Jill Anholt Studios) developed a concept that greatly improves the 5 Street S.W. underpass, while seamlessly integrating art into the design.
The 5 Street S.W. underpass integrated art design is meant to remind underpass users of the important relationship Calgary has to water, both in the past and present. The underpass serves not only as a connector between the Bow and Elbow Rivers, but also as a rare subterranean experience in the city that can expose pedestrians to the rich geological and hydrological history that exists under Calgary’s visible industrial and infrastructural layers.
This integrated art design was created by Jill Anholt and fabricated by a Canadian company. The installation of this piece in the underpass will be complete in Fall 2021.
For more information, visit calgary.ca/publicart.
The City is also replacing the 5 Street S.W. stormwater pump station, as it is at the end of its service life. Construction timelines are being coordinated between underpass enhancements and pump station upgrades to minimize disruption to citizens and businesses during construction.
Built in the 1970s, the 5 Street S.W. underpass between 10 and 9 Avenues serves as a main gateway and key corridor for north-south movement between the communities of Beltline and downtown Calgary. Under normal circumstances the underpass' cycle track averages over 1,185 riders each day with as many as 2,500 riders during peak days, while more than 6,500 people walk through the underpass.
The site is unique due to its historical context of the site pre-settlement, the significance of the railway, adjacent land-uses, transportation, and local character.
5 Street S.W. Underpass Enhancements – Video
Watch this video to learn more about this project
- Underpass is open to motorists in both directions
- The cycle track is open.
- Sidewalks are open on both the east and west side of the underpass
- Temporary barriers are in place around the integrated art installations until Fall 2021
- 2018 - 2019: public engagement - COMPLETED
- 2019 - 2020: final design - COMPLETED
- Summer 2020: construction begins - UNDERWAY
- Fall 2020: Underpass enhancements – COMPLETED
- Spring 2021: Lift station upgrades - COMPLETED
- Summer - Fall 2021: Completion of project landscaping, installation of integrated art pieces as well as completion of lift station upgrades
As the project moves forward, we will provide updates about this project through this webpage. If you would like more information, please contact 311.