2009 Southwest Calgary Ring Road Design: Opening Day Stage

(For information about the 2013 ring road agreement including maps, click here)

In my previous article (found here) I wrote about the design of the Southwest Calgary Ring Road, and included the road diagrams. Those diagrams showed the ‘Ultimate Stage’ of the road, which showed the road as it would be once fully built out, something that would happen only once Calgary’s population reached the 2.1 million mark. However, they do not represent what would initially be built in the short term if this road becomes reality. This article covers the ‘Stage 1’ or ‘Opening Day’ design for the road that would be built if (or when) a deal is reached.


Focus Engineering designed the road from about 2005 to about 2008, and did so with on behalf of the Province, with input from the City of Calgary, the Tsuu T’ina and stakeholder groups. The final road design is contained in the final Functional Planning Study (FPS) document.


The following diagrams are of the ‘Opening Day’ stage of the Southwest Calgary Ring Road, taken from the Functional Planning Study. The number in the circles on the road indicate lane count. Please click on the images to see a much larger version. (Note the direction of North, as the orientation changes from diagram to diagram).

101st Street SW and Highway 8 to 69th Street SW. Continue reading “2009 Southwest Calgary Ring Road Design: Opening Day Stage”


2009 Southwest Calgary Ring Road Design: Ultimate Stage

(For information about the 2013 ring road agreement including maps, click here)

The 2009 Southwest Calgary Ring Road plan was the culmination of not just 5 years of study and negotiation, but of decades of transportation plans. While the negotiations were rejected by the Tsuu T’ina in June of 2009, that agreement will form the basis of the current negotiations. Both parties have stated that while the terms of the agreement need work, the road and alignment would not change in the renewed negotiations. But what exactly did the plan entail?

The 2009 Plan was initiated in 2004, with the signing of an ‘Agreement in Principle’ by Premiere Ralph Klein and Chief Sanford Big Plume, followed in 2005 by the signing of a ‘Final Framework for Infrastructure’. This Framework agreement set the stage for the Province to begin the work of determining a route, planning the road and negotiating for the land required.

While the design plans for most of the Stoney Trail (the Calgary Ring Road) calls for a road of 2-4 lanes in each direction (4-8 lanes total) the Southwest portion was designed to accomodate 16 lanes. The Tsuu T’ina agreed that if they were to sell land for a road, it would be done only once. Since the Province have long term plans for a second ‘Outer’ Ring Road around Calgary, and with no further opportunity to purchase more land from the Tsuu T’ina, the Southwest portion was to be designed to accomodate not only the 8 lanes from the current Stoney Trail Ring Road, but an additional 8 lanes for a future, ‘Outer’ Ring Road (shown below). The ‘Opening Day’ scenario details a road of 4-6 lanes, while the ‘Ultimate’ stage, not expected to be built for 50+ years, details a road of up to 16 lanes.

Outer Ring Road small

Continue reading “2009 Southwest Calgary Ring Road Design: Ultimate Stage”

1959, 1963 and 1967 Transportation Plans

In 1959, Calgary produced it’s first ever transportation plan, called the Calgary Metropolitan Area Transportation Study. This was the first time the City produced a comprehensive, forward-looking plan that laid out the basic road network for a growing city.

Part of this document, plus the revision in 1963 and the Calgary Transportation Study (CALTS) in 1967, showed for the first time (*see edit below) a plan for a major north-south road connecting Glenmore Trail to the areas south of the reservoir, called the ‘West By-Pass’. The City planned this section of the road to be a continuation of what would eventually be called Sarcee Trail, from Glenmore Trail, heading south through the Harvey Barracks (Sarcee Camp), through the Weaselhead area, and then south along the 37th street SW corridor from about 90th avenue SW. Because the Harvey Barracks was at that time owned by the Canadian Military, and both it and the Weaselhead area were within Calgary city limits, this original routing was contained entirely within the City of Calgary, and required no land from the adjoining Tsuu T’ina reserve.

Continue reading “1959, 1963 and 1967 Transportation Plans”

Welcome to the Southwest Calgary Ring Road Blog

A little over a year ago, I saw the online newspaper comments attached to a story about the provincial government’s plans regarding the Southwest Calgary Ring Road (SWCRR). The article was well written and dealt with the issue at hand, but it was the comment section that inspired me to pursue and really understand the issues surrounding this road.

The one thing that seemed to define the comments on any story that covered the SWCRR was the lack of consistency regarding the history of the project. No two posts agreed on how the project got to where it was. In these comments, there were some posts that contradicted others (The road was always/never intended to go up 37th street) comments that seemed to get some basic facts wrong (The Tsuu T’ina never sold any of their reserve to anyone apart from the Weaselhead) and some that simply seemed to defy all logic (The houses in Lakeview on 37th street are zoned R2 because they were always meant to be demolished for the road).

I had heard enough rumours and hearsay to know that only documented evidence would satisfy my curiosity. It is a complex and detailed history, so it’s really no wonder that the truth is bogged down by misunderstanding, mistrust and emotion.

To be brief, the Province is looking at building a north-south road in the Southwest quadrant of Calgary, to complete the city’s ring road. This otherwise innocuous goal is complicated by a number of geographic and political obstacles, and, unlike the rest of the ring road, no clear corridor has been set aside for this purpose. The first proposed road of this kind in the area dates back to 1959 and the ‘Calgary Metropolitan Area Transportation Plan’, the first ever comprehensive transportation plan for the City of Calgary. The plan called for a 4-lane extension of Sarcee Trail, due south across the Elbow river, then swinging east to join up with 90th avenue SW and south again towards Anderson Road. The City itself has changed in the intervening years, and so have the plans for the road.

I hope to use this blog as a way to get to facts about the history of the road and to explore the issues that led us to where we are in it’s development. To dispel some ideas that, while untrue, have nonetheless taken hold in the debate surrounding this infrastructure project. My research has put me in touch with City and Provincial officials, politicians, academics, citizen groups and environmental activists. With access to news archives, planning documents and personal correspondence, I think a clear and honest picture of the history of this road can emerge, and with luck, some of the misconceptions can be put to rest.

As well, 2012 and 2013 look set to be important years in the development of the SWCRR. Negotiations are back underway between the Province and the Tsuu T’ina First Nation, the Government has a new mandate for the next several years, and the desire for this road to be built has seemingly never been higher. I hope to present and comment on current news as it happens.

Unless stated otherwise, everything I will be presenting will be backed up. If you have information that can clarify, expand, or even challenge any topic here, especially if you have documentation (newspaper articles, planning documents, maps, letters etc), please feel free to leave a comment.

(Check out the timeline here for a quick summary of the issues and the history involved in this project)