News / Calgary

City of Calgary plans lane reversals to boost downtown traffic flow

Commuters routinely stuck in downtown traffic jams may soon see their frustrations ease, as the city plans to introduce more lanes running into the core in the mornings and away from it at night.

Calgary roads director Troy McLeod told Metro his department is planning to introduce a one-lane reversal on 4th Avenue SW between 10th Street and 8th Street from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. in the mornings and a two-lane reversal on the parallel 5th Avenue for the evening rush-hour, running from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

The two roads, situated in the northwest corner of the downtown core, are known for their bottlenecks, as they provide the most straightforward route to the city's west and northwest neighbourhoods.

The city is also looking at removing a curb bulb on 8th Street to allow for one more permanent lane of traffic on 6th Avenue through to 11th street. McLeod said it's hoped all of the new road configurations can be put into place sometime in the first half of 2015.

"We're doing the design work right now . . . we'd put it in as a temporary setup, we'd decided how long we want it in, a month or two," McLeod said. "Then, we'd look at a permanent lane-reversal with signals, and, in some cases, the signals are already there."

Data indicates more than 60,000 residents flood into the downtown core in the morning but it's believed use of automobiles among those commuters is declining, while transit use and cycling are on the upswing.

McLeod said the moves could also offset any backups caused by slightly longer traffic-signal timings that could be required with the introduction of longer, four-car C-Trains.

"It just gives us more flexibility in the network and provides an easier egress for getting in and out of the downtown for auto and for bus," he said.

Ward 9 Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra applauded the plans and said already-existing lane reversals on Centre Street and Memorial Drive have done wonders to improve traffic flow. (See an explanation of how those work here).

"These systems, definitely work, they definitely help," he said. "The reality is we have to find every efficiency that we can if we're going to continue to deal with the kind of growth we've been dealing with.

"I think it's imperative."

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