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Deerfoot Trail Study

Project update: November 28, 2019

Phase 3: Sharing preliminary long-term concepts for Deerfoot Trail

Thank you to all who provided input for Phase 3. The opportunity to share your ideas is now closed and we are reading all of the contributions. The What We Heard Report will be available January 2020.

Find the proposed design concepts at

The City is working with Alberta Transportation to develop both short- and long-term plans to manage traffic and improve safety on Deerfoot Trail. The study is considering a wide range of freeway management strategies with an emphasis on:

Phase 3 - Developing the preliminary long-term concepts

The preliminary concepts have been developed from a significant amount of technical work that reviewed, confirmed and analyzed the problems along Deerfoot Trail and the adjacent network. Technical analysis combined with the public input gathered in the initial phase of the project, identified two main problems: not enough capacity and a lack of east-west connectivity across Deerfoot Trail.

The analysis shows the number of vehicles trying to use Deerfoot Trail during peak times exceed the capacity of the roadway. South of 17 Avenue S.E. there was a considerable number of people using Deerfoot Trail for 'local' trips, i.e. one or two interchanges, to get across the Bow River. These short, local trips add vehicles to the freeway and create considerable turbulence with weaving.

While adding capacity in key locations is an important part of the strategy for Deerfoot Trail, it must be complemented by other freeway management strategies.

To develop the long-term concepts, a total of 13 potential improvement strategies were assessed; including five themes; travel demand management, network improvement, high occupancy vehicle lanes, general purpose lanes widening, and collector distributer roadways along the entire corridor.

Two key improvement tools, High Occupancy Vehicles (HOV) Lanes and General Purpose (GP) Lane Widening have been shortlisted to develop the corridor improvement package in addition to key improvement areas along the corridor:

  1. Beddington Trail N.E.
  2. McKnight Blvd N.E.
  3. 16 Avenue N.E.
  4. 17 Avenue S.E. / Memorial Drive N.E. (multiple options being considered)
  5. Peigan Trail S.E. / Barlow Trail S.E. / 50 Ave Connector
  6. Glenmore Trail S
  7. Anderson Road / Bow Bottom Trail S.E. / Southland Drive S.E. (multiple options being considered)

The City is seeking input on the preliminary concepts. The feedback received from the public will be incorporated into the evaluation process to determine the preferred long-term recommendation for the Deerfoot Trail corridor.

Progress to date

Building on the information gained in Phase 1 (which helped confirm problem areas, provide context around user experiences and identify stakeholder priorities), Phase 2 of the study was completed in Spring 2017 and resulted in five short-term recommendations. These recommendations were selected, from the many options considered, because they best met the following criteria identified for short-term improvements:

  • Provide benefits for five to 10 years
  • Able to be designed and implemented within two years of being funded
  • Offer improvements for problem locations that benefit the entire corridor
  • Result in benefits that are greater than the cost within 10 years


Phase 1 - Existing conditions and problem definition

At the beginning of the study, the technical team undertook a thorough review of the corridor to understand how the road is operating and define the current problems. This included reviewing all background reports, a safety audit and a Bluetooth survey (picking up anonymous responders) to understand travel patterns and origins and destinations.

From June 1 - 30, 2016, road users were asked to provide input about their experiences using Deerfoot Trail by completing an online questionnaire, pinning comments to an online map or attending one of six open houses. This resulted in thousands of completed questionnaires (8000+) and map comments (3000+), which helped the project team confirm the problem areas, understand the context around user experiences and identify user priorities.


Phase 2 - Short-term improvement recommendations

Over the last 20 years, there have been 17 studies about Deerfoot Trail. Using those studies, the 10,000+ comments from citizens during the first Phase of engagement, and an updated technical analysis of the corridor today, the project team developed numerous potential short-term improvement options. In late 2016, the project team held two stakeholder workshops to review short-term improvement options.

Many improvement options were identified and considered along the entire corridor - in both directions - including for the problem areas around 17 Avenue S.E., Glenmore Trail and the Ivor Strong Bridge. It was determined that these areas require significant infrastructure investment and do not meet the criteria for consideration in the short-term. They will, however, be addressed in Phase 3 of the study when the project team develops the long-term recommendations.

For more details on some of short-term options considered, please see the Short-term Options Stakeholder Workshop What We Heard report.


Five short-term recommendations

The five recommendations that best met the criteria identified for short-term improvements include:

These short-term recommendations are preliminary but have been advanced enough to identify what additional land would be needed and the estimated cost to implement them. While there is currently no funding committed to the short- or long-term improvements on Deerfoot Trail, these details will inform future funding decisions.

Study overview

Deerfoot Trail is Calgary's oldest freeway, and the busiest in Alberta. The majority of Deerfoot Trail was built between 1971 and 1982. The city's population has doubled since 1981 and the aging infrastructure is no longer meeting current traffic demand, resulting in congestion, unreliability and safety concerns.

The principal role of the Deerfoot Trail within the City of Calgary is to provide an efficient, reliable, and safe connection for motor vehicle traffic and goods movement within, to, and from the City.

The purpose of Deerfoot Trail Study is to review and develop short, medium and long-term recommendations to enhance safety and mobility for all users and improve and optimize overall operations throughout the corridor and adjacent network.

The study boundaries are the Stoney Trail interchanges in the north and south. This 37.5 km stretch includes 20 interchanges and more than 40 bordering communities. Please note: the Stoney Trail interchanges are included only as scope limits. It is not anticipated that the study or any resulting solutions will significantly affect these intersections.

Facts about Deerfoot Trail

  • Deerfoot Trail is part of the National Highway Network and managed by Alberta Transportation.
  • In Calgary, Deerfoot Trail is part of the Primary Goods Movement Network, and is classified as a skeletal road in the Calgary Transportation Plan. Skeletal roads are often high-speed roads aimed at moving cars and trucks for long distances.
  • The average daily traffic ranges from 83,000 vehicles per day at the south end to 170,000 vehicles per day north of Memorial Drive.
  • Deerfoot Trail is the only road, other than Stoney Trail, providing a continuous north-south connection across the city, and the only north-south skeletal road serving central and east Calgary.

Public engagement

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Related links and documents