The NDP government is putting a ring on it.
Premier Rachel Notley and Transportation Minister Brian Mason officially announced Thursday that construction on the west and final leg of Calgary’s ring road will begin next year, with a fully completed 101-kilometre ring road system slated to be in place by 2022.
“We know that the traffic is going to be increasing. The need for that ring road is becoming critical,” said Mason at the announcement at the Bow Building.
“It will improve trade, it will improve competitiveness … it will allow people to get where they need to go more efficiently and more safely.”
The new project comes with construction currently underway on the $1.4-billion southwest ring road project, which is slated to be completed in 2021.
The government won’t put a price tag on the west leg for competitive reasons but Mason expects the cost will be “north of $1 billion,” with the province also hoping for federal support.
Mason said the project will be split into three parts for construction purposes, allowing more companies to bid.
“We want to make sure that everybody gets a shot,” said Mason, who said the west leg, unless the southwest portion, will not be a public-private partnership.
The west project involves the construction of nine km of six- and eight-lane divided highway connecting Highway 8 and the Trans Canada highway.
It will include six interchanges and 24 bridges, reconstruction of part of the Trans Canada and the widening of Stoney Trail from the Bow River to Scenic Acres.
Mason said the government believes it will avoid the headaches that have come with construction of the southwest ring road. The province has acknowledged the southwest portion is being “overbuilt” but blames that on the tight timelines it faces.
Under the land swap deal with the Tsuut’ina Nation that allowed the southwest ring road to go ahead, construction must be complete by 2022 or the land reverts to the First Nation.
While there will likely be a gap between completion of the southwest and west portions of the ring road, both the government and Mayor Naheed Nenshi downplayed potential traffic issues.
There had been concerns in the past about four lanes of traffic spilling onto existing roads such as Glenmore and Sarcee trails without a completed west leg.
Nenshi said there is little concern over the one-year gap because the biggest worry related to traffic stemming from future population growth once the southwest portion was complete.
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