Tsuut’ina Trail portion of the Southwest Ring Road now open

Driving the Southwest Calgary Ring Road. Northbound at the 90th Avenue SW Interchange

Today marked the official opening of a significant portion of Calgary’s Southwest Ring Road. Known as Tsuut’ina Trail, the road forms part of Alberta Highway 201 between Highway 8 and Fish Creek Boulevard SW. This opening is the culmination of a long and interesting story that spans the better part of 70 years (and beyond).

A Tsuut’ina prayer was given by Charlie Crowchild, and a safe journey song was led by Councillor Ellery Starlight to open the ceremony. This was was followed by remarks from Premier Jason Kenney, Minister of Transportation Ric McIver, Chief Roy Whitney-Onespot and Mayor Naheed Nenshi; all of whom noted the value of the road, its importance in future relations between the Nation and the City, and the significance of the long history of the project.

L-R: Alberta Minister of Transportation Ric McIver, Tsuut’ina Chief Roy Whitney Onespot and Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi

An unscheduled speaker, Seth Cardinal Dodginghorse, took to the podium during the ceremony in order to provide an alternative view of the project. He spoke about the loss of his childhood home and of his family having to move from the land that was required to build the ring road, after which he cut off his braids as a sign of protest.

Following the ceremony, drivers were allowed to traverse the new section of the road. These first travelers on Tsuut’ina Trail headed north from Anderson road past the 90th Avenue SW interchange, through the Weaselhead area and over the Elbow River before passing the Tsuut’ina Parkway interchange and then on to Glenmore Trail. A journey of around 4 minutes going the posted 100km/h limit.

Half as old as Calgary

The origin of this road dates back to 1952 when the City first envisioned a bypass road located west of the Glenmore Reservoir. The timing is notable, as 1952 marks the halfway point in Calgary’s life; 68 years after the establishment of Calgary as a town saw the emergence of what would become the Southwest ring road, which was then opened 68 years later.

In 1952 the road was only hinted at, and it wasn’t until the following year that a bypass route was actually committed to paper.

(Source: Untitled Map. December 1953. City of Calgary Corporate Records, Archives. Board of Commissioners S. IV box 189 F. 39. Highlight added to show the southwest bypass route.)

This route would be altered over the years, sometimes significantly, but some variation of a Southwest Ring Road has continued to feature in the City’s long-term planning ever since.

Now Open… Mostly

With the Tsuut’ina Trail segment of Calgary’s Ring Road open, only the portion of the Southwest leg between Fish Creek Boulevard and Highway 22x, and the West leg between Highway 8 and Highway 1 remains under construction.

Although it has been nearly 70 years in the making and is now largely open, the story of the Southwest Ring Road is only just beginning. Tsuut’ina Trail will act as a link between the City and the Tsuut’ina Nation long into the future, not only physically, but also with the potential to bring together two communities in culture and commerce.

See these articles for more on the origins of the road, for a timeline of the project, and for a look at the Nation’s Taza commercial development project.

With thanks to Lyle Dodginghorse, Ric McIver, Darrell Crowchild, Adam Nobel-Johnson, Naheed Nenshi and Geoff Vanderberg