For those who have ever sat idling in traffic on Crowchild Trail, good news may be on the horizon. The Crowchild Trail Corridor Study (CTCS) is wrapping up after two years of citizen engagement with the Study Team making recommendations to Council in early 2017.
In 2012 there was a failed attempt to present proposed design concepts for traffic improvements along Crowchild Trail. The proposals were poorly received by many of the most-adjacent and/or affected residents who felt they were not adequately consulted before decisions were made. In July 2014, city staff were directed to use more interactive, multi-component communication techniques that engaged all stakeholders to identify project goals, define success, raise issues and look for solutions that minimize impacts on neighbouring communities. From this, the Crowchild Trail Corridor Study (CTCS) was launched in early 2015. The CTCS had specific geographic limits, from 24th Ave NW to 17th Ave SW. The CTCS team interpreted the Council’s newly adopted Corridor Studies Policy (of which CTCS would be the first) such that nearby residents and directly impacted landowners, business owners, and community associations to those limits were accorded greater consultation and input opportunities than, for example, the road users from more distant communities north or south of the limits.
The Scenic Acres Community Association (SACA) Community Development Committee former Chairperson, David Wright, was engaged early in the process to ensure opinions from our community were heard. Bill Mah and Colin Yeo of SACA’s Community Development Committee continue to be involved in the process and effectively participated in Phases 2 to 6. Our residents’ main concern was free flowing traffic from Nose Hill Drive to Glenmore Trail, but Scenic Acres residents had empathy for those neighbourhoods bordering the 24th Avenue to 17th Avenue corridor.
To explain how the Study Team arrived at the final recommendations, it’s best to look at the entire process.
Phase1: Phase 1 was the Process Design Engagement. An 18 member Engagement Design Team (EDT) was assembled from representatives of neighbouring communities, specific user groups and citizens selected at random from volunteers willing to serve. This team was charged with evaluating different engagement tools to ensure the most effective stakeholder communication possible. Over three meetings, the EDT determined to whom they would speak, what they wanted to learn and how they would do it. They decided on the engagement tools they would use to develop goals and measures that would define success for the CTCS. The EDT also endorsed an engagement program for future Phases 2 – 6. Right from the beginning, direct communications at residents/landowners-only meetings (separate and in advance of the Public Information Sessions and workshops) were an integral part of the process.
Phase 2: Phase 2 was about confirming the goals of the project. A large number of participants were invited to develop, refine and finalize project goals that would define success for the CTCS under three key principles that are a directive of Council to:
* maintain and enhance bordering communities
* improve travel along the corridor
* improve mobility across the corridor.
Draft goals were developed from 23 engagement events and thousands of online ideas. Those ideas were distilled into 11 project goals and reviewed by 650 people. Based on their feedback, the 11 project goals were finalized and enshrined in the process. These project goals are more like criteria against which future design options would be evaluated.
Phase 3: Now that the project goals had been established, Phase 3 asked all Calgarian’s to bring forward ideas on changes to Crowchild Trail and to assess the benefits, constraints, impacts and trade-offs of these ideas. Six workshops were held where participants worked with technical facilitators to sketch out their ideas on maps and identify the benefits and challenges of those ideas. 500 ideas were presented during these sessions. A technical analysis was conducted on the 500 ideas which were grouped into 25 based on common themes and concepts. Some of the 25 were deemed to be “non-starters” as they violated some of the three key principles established in Phase 2 but 17 remaining ideas were evaluated against the project goals, leading to preliminary concepts to be evaluated in Phase 4.
Phase 4: In Phase 4, again, Calgarian’s were invited to evaluate the 17 preliminary concepts that had emerged from Phase 3. An additional 5 of the 17 ideas were assessed by Calgarian’s to not have met the three key principles and required a high level of effort to implement. These ideas would not go further but their benefits were captured and incorporated into preliminary design concepts that will be reviewed by participants in Phase 5.
Phase 5: Phase 5 presented recommendations for short, medium and long term upgrades to Crowchild Trail and solicited feedback from participants on their strengths and weaknesses to help finalize these draft recommendations. Participants could now see how those initial 500 ideas had crystallized into recommendations that would be sent to Council.
Phase 6: Phase 6 closed the process. The final recommendations were shown along with the changes that were made based on feedback from Phase 5. Phase 6 also asked participants for their assessment of the entire engagement process. The recommendations and assessment will be presented to Council in early 2017.
Short Term Recommendations will restrict left turns at peak periods at several intersections, implement pedestrian only crossings, eliminate un-signalized left turns on Crowchild and build a new ramp from westbound 16th Avenue to northbound Crowchild Trail. A new right-hand entry ramp from westbound Bow Trail to northbound Crowchild will eliminate the dreaded dash to cut across three lanes of traffic to exit onto Memorial Drive. These Short term Recommendations are expected to have a noticeable impact on improved traffic flow even before the Medium Term Recommendations are implemented.
The all-important question, of course, is timing. The Short Term Recommendations are shovel ready and there is an expectation that funding will be available in the new year.
With the implementation of the Medium Term Recommendations, Crowchild Trail will be free-flowing from 12 Mile Coulee Road to Glenmore Trail with interchanges at 24th, 16th and 5th Avenues and Kensington Road. The Medium Term Recommendations are expected to be underway in the next 6 to 10 years.
Crowchild Trail improvements are classed as high priority, but the functional study and detailed design stages will take two years alone and construction would not begin until they are complete. However, it must be remembered, that there are many worthy projects in the City’s Investing in Mobility Plan and not nearly enough money.
To learn more about the Crowchild Trail Corridor Study, please go to: https://www.calgary.ca/Transportation/TP/Pages/Projects/Current-Planning-Projects/crowchild-trail-study/Crowchild-Trail-Study.aspx
Short Term Recommendations can be found at: https://www.calgary.ca/Transportation/TP/Documents/Projects/Current-Planning-Projects/crowchild-corridor-study/Dec%201%20Update/Ph6_ShortTerm_RecPlan.pdf
Medium Term Recommendations can be found at: https://www.calgary.ca/Transportation/TP/Documents/Projects/Current-Planning-Projects/crowchild-corridor-study/Dec%201%20Update/Ph6_MediumTerm_RecPlan.pdf
Long Term Recommendations can be found at: https://www.calgary.ca/Transportation/TP/Documents/Projects/Current-Planning-Projects/crowchild-corridor-study/Dec%201%20Update/Ph6_LongTerm_RecPlan.pdf
The SACA Community Development Committee will continue to monitor implementation of the CTCS recommendations and engage when and where required to ensure that free-flowing traffic along Crowchild becomes a reality.
Respectfully submitted by,
Colin Yeo, Member, SACA Community Development Committee
David Wright, Former Chair, SACA Community Development Committee
Last updated December 07, 2016