By JESSICA PATTERSON - Contract awards for the West Calgary Ring Road is expected to move forward in coming months.
"Procurement for the first phase of the final leg of the Calgary ring road, the west segment, will begin shortly after the business case has been developed and approved by the Treasury Board,” said Nancy Beasley Hosker, communications for Alberta Transportation.
The ministry is investigating whether to fund the final leg of the Calgary Ring Road through public-private partnerships (P3), which has been used for the construction of some of Calgary’s existing ring road portions.
The ring road could still be done as a traditional design-bid-build project, said Beasley Hosker.
“For a project of this type, we are putting together a business case to present to the Treasury Board that would move forward with the P3 design-build-finance-operate contract, because we find that it does make the most sense,” she said.
The remaining leg of Calgary’s ring road is split into two phases, the west and southwest legs.
“There are a couple of reasons for splitting it in two,” Beasley Hosker said.
“Research indicated the final leg of the ring road, as one large project, would be too large for industry.”
The West Calgary Ring Road would be the first on the government’s agenda, consisting of 15 kilometres from Highway 1 to 69 Street/Glenmore Trail.
This portion of the ring road would consist of a six and eight-lane divided highway, 29 bridges, seven interchanges, one flyover, and bridges over the Bow and Elbow rivers.
The Southwest Calgary Ring Road would consist of 26 kilometres from 69 Street/Glenmore Trail to Macleod Trail/Highway 22X.
This would consist of six and eight-lane divided highway, 37 bridges, one rail flyover, 13 interchanges and crossings over the Elbow River and Fish Creek.
“Before we can begin on the southwest section of the ring road, the Government of Canada must complete the land transfer exercise as per the agreement between the Tsuu T’ina Nation and the Government of Alberta,” she said.
Last year, the Tsuu T’ina Nation, whose eastern boundary abuts the southwest city limits, agreed to sell 428.1 hectares to the province for the transfer of 2,030.8 hectares of Crown land, and $340.7 million.
This included $275 million for the land plus $65.7 million to cover impacts on the reserve.
The agreement also promised the nation could purchase an additional 129.5 hectares of Crown land from the province for $1.6 million.
The land purchases are not finalized.
“Until we have those in place, we won’t know the exact cost for either the West or Southwest Calgary ring road,” she said.
That said, a rough estimate generated at an early planning level for the entire cost of the project was $5 billion, but that would include the land purchases, transfers, design, construct, utility relocations, connector roads and maintenance for 30 years for the remaining 41 kilometres, she said.
“It’s important to complete the ring road for today and for the growth that has yet to come,” Beasley Hosker said.
“The work that’s being done today will support the growth of today and tomorrow.”
A ring road around Calgary has been under discussion for more than 50 years.
Studies looking at a ring road date back as early as 1974.
In 1974, Calgary’s population was 324,000.
“In those early plans, they forecast significant growth, but our growth has exceeded what was forecast in the early 1970s,” she said.
“You can see there’s a lot of foresight by those planners, considering on the number of people relying on those roads now.”
If the projects are approved, the Request for Qualification for the West Calgary Ring Road could begin in summer 2014, and a contractor selected by as early as summer 2015.
Currently, Calgary’s ring road is 70 per cent complete.
It will facilitate 70 kilometres of roadway around the city.
When finished, the new Calgary Ring Road will offer motorists 111 kilometres of free-flow travel around Calgary.
This includes related work on roadways outside of the actual ring road, but that are still considered part of the ring road project.
Calgary’s north, eastern and southeastern parts of the ring road, known as Stoney Trail, connect motorists in the south all the way to Highway 1 towards Banff.
The latter, which opened on Nov. 22, 2013, consists of a six-lane freeway, with an agreement which includes a 30-year maintenance agreement with the Chinook Roads Partnership.
At the time, the $769 million P3 contract was the second largest single highway project in Alberta’s history.
Southeast Stoney Trail is complete, though there is still some work going on at Macleod Trail, where crews are completing an upgrade of the Stoney Trail interchange.
The upgrade cost is $4 million.
The project is expected to be completed by the end of May, after crews install guardrails and signage, and repair deficiencies.
A 22.3 kilometre northwest portion of Stoney Trail is being widened to three lanes in both directions with an expected completion date in the fall.
The $10.4 million project will provide drivers with six lanes of freeway between Crowchild Trail and Highway 2.
Crews will also be working on widening the two bridges over West Nose Creek at a cost of $4.9 million.
“The ring roads accomplish a number of things,” Beasley Hosker said.
“Not only do they promote safe, efficient travel for individuals within the Calgary region, they also support improved commercial travel and market access.”