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5 Street S.W. Underpass Enhancement

Project update - October 9, 2020

Construction continues on the 5 Street S.W. underpass enhancements, as well as upgrades to the 5 Street stormwater lift station, which will help protect the downtown from future flooding.

Crews have now moved their construction work from the East side pedestrian walkway to the West side walkway. The East side walkway has reopened for pedestrians and the West side walkway is now closed to allow for construction. 

With work now underway  on the West side walkway, one lane of vehicle traffic will be closed to provide room for crews to work. The cycle track remains open for users.

Work on the East side will be completed fully in the spring of 2021 with the installation of the integrated art pieces, which will start fabrication soon. Temporary barricades have been installed for pedestrians on the East side.

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

Cycling Facility

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.

Cycling Education

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.

Public Art

Through a Request for Proposal (RFP) in 2017 and artist and design team was hired. The design team developed a concept that greatly improves the 5 Street S.W. underpass, while seamlessly integrating art into the design.

The concept is site-responsive and intends to remind us of the important relationship Calgary has to water, both past and present, while at the same time providing drivers, pedestrians and cyclists with a memorable and more enjoyable commute.​

Stormwater lift station

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.​

Project background

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


  • When construction moves from the East side to the West side, the East side walkway will reopen for pedestrians and the West side walkway will be closed to allow for construction.
  • The cycle track remains open.
  • As work begins on the West side walkway, one lane of vehicle traffic will be closed to provide room for crews to work.

Project timeline

  • 2018 - 2019: public engagement - COMPLETED
  • 2019 - 2020: final design - COMPLETED
  • July 2020: construction begins - UNDERWAY
  • Spring 2021: completion of underpass enhancements and lift station upgrades


$7.85 million


As the project moves forward, we will provide updates about this project through this webpage. If you would like more information, please contact 311.