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Thread: Gateway Boulevard and Calgary Trail

  1. #1

    Default Gateway Boulevard and Calgary Trail

    Throughout this site, youll find article after thread after column on transportation ideas, initiatives, and plans for Edmonton. Some will cite the LRT, which is a very honourable and arguably a necessary plan to enact. Others will cite Whitemud Drive and specifically the Quensel Bridge; another well deserved project. Even more will look towards the completion of the Anthony Henday ring road, or the Yellowhead, or others within the city, and all will be great projects. However, the one project that needs attention as much as, or even moreso, is the blight that is Gateway Boulevard and Calgary trail. Why? Because unlike the many others Ive mentioned, Gateway Boulevard and Calgary Trail lack something the others have: a concrete plan that is currently approved to turn this ugly stretch of road into a fast, efficient, and aesthetically pleasing entrance to our city

    Travelling in from our airport and from the southern areas of Alberta, the Queen Elizabeth 2 Highway is a fast vehicular transport corridor right up until you hit 23 avenue in Edmonton. Then, it all stops. Welcome to Gateway Boulevard, the forgotten son of Edmontons transportation system. This is our main entrance into the city and access to our downtown core, and yet there is no convenient or fast access to 97th avenue the border of our downtown and government districts.

    Why is Gateway so important? It is, after all, the major artery in and out of our city for all our travellers that are airport bound. A freer flowing Gateway/Calgary Trail could shave up to 20 minutes off the drive from 97th avenue to our airport, further removing the perception of our airports distance to the city core. A dedicated clean-up initiative would go a long way to giving this route a more polished and professional look; thereby giving our visiting business professionals a more accurate perception of our city.

    The negative perception the road creates is greatly exemplified in Paul D. Grants book Baptism by Ice. In it, he and his American counterpart describe how absolutely unimpressed to horrified they were of the drive into Edmonton, how the drive along Gateway was ugly and uninspiring, and then are absolutely blown away as they hit the river valley. I invite you to read the chapter on their trip to Edmonton as it completely and accurately sums up the impression nearly every visitor or client I bring to Edmonton has of our premier drive into the city.

    To be fair, there have been several plans to get fast access to the downtown from the south. 91st street via the Mill Creek Ravine was one such plan, and remnants exist today of this plan via the large right-of-way that is 91st until 51st avenue, the junctions surrounding the Muttart Conservatory, and other downtown access roads. Another ambitious plan had a new bridge being built at the base of the Queen Elizabeth Hill, and the approach is still visible today. However, these plans, like many others, fell victim to protest and politics. Our southern access has since been maligned to exist as a traffic light ridden, run down shop lined road with some small gems in between.

    Recently, Edmonton has come up with several plans for many other arteries and ancillary roads within the city, but has never come up with a long term plan for the entire stretch that is Gateway and Calgary Trail. There once were 4 different road alignments for an expressway along Gateway and Calgary Trail, but those plans are not concrete. Additionally, the recent election did highlight the need for a larger, more direct access from Saskatchewan drive via a new bridge into the downtown core. To be fair, 23rd avenue is now well on the way for a long overdue overpass, the poorly planned intersection that is 19th avenue will be gone, and the Henday interchange is giving this drive more of a big city feel and flow. However, the rest of the roadway seems mired in indecision and inaction.

    Some would suggest we extend a high speed train or the LRT to the airport; thereby, along with park and rides, solving a lot of our southern transportation woes. While a great idea in concept, one must wonder whether our airport will have the passenger volumes to warrant LRT access and expense, along with the desire by many travellers to take the LRT over dedicated point-to-point travel methods such as taxis and personal vehicles. Light Rail is notoriously expensive and one could argue inflated in cost, so one would have to address this in such a grand scheme. Add to this that the majority of our population continues to enjoy and vehemently protect the ability to have the freedom of their own transportation, and the LRT may be ahead of its time.

    There are other good ideas in existence; however, what is missing is a definitive and approved action plan. Fear exists that this roadway will never improve unless it receives the attention it deserves. Edmonton needs a decision on the future of this roadway now. We need to build our businesses, our thoughts, and our downtown plan around this single decision. One could readily argue that the final piece to the downtown revitalization puzzle is simply access from the south.

    So, here is an open invite to the Connect2Edmonton forum to discuss this issue. What are your ideas? Is this an issue worth pursuing? Let us know your thoughts!

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    great article...and a very very critical subject. Gateway is a mess, simple as that. We need to stop putting flower pots and painting light poles and begin rezoning, removing access sideroads, landscaping, and underpassing.

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    I agree Richard. One of my pet peeves underscored by the closing of the northbound lanes of the Low Level Bridge is the fact that our bridges are ancient and in my view inadequate for the speedy transportation of people in and out of the downtown.

    A new bridge might also be an opportunity to build something of a landmark that highlights our river valley. Of course, I know every proposal for a new bridge crossing will undergo searing protests by environmental groups and others.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JimR
    Of course, I know every proposal for a new bridge crossing will undergo searing protests by environmental groups and others.
    Really only one man ever managed to get roads through the valley: Hawrelak.

    The valley in this city is sacrosanct. We cannot touch it...it can only sit there. A bridge doesn't have to ruin the valley's environment. Good heavens, the Walterdale is right beside a Power Plant!
    LA today, Athens tomorrow. I miss E-town.

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    gateway is a shame...

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    Quote Originally Posted by RichardS
    /\ the first huge understatement in the C2E forum!!!
    and the 2nd...

    "im not very proud of calgary trail south either"

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    /\ can I play too Cold???

    FIX IT NOW!!!!

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    I agree. If done right, a Gateway Bridge could add to river valley instead of being an eye sore. Bridges like the Centre St Bridge in Calgary, the University Bridge in Saskatoon, or the High Level Bridge come to mind.

    At the same time, I think the city really dropped the ball on 91 St. Until recently, it would have been possible to reroute Hwy 2 to 91 St from Gateway Park (Anthony Henday Dr and new development have blocked that idea). Had Hwy 2 followed 91 St, you could have elimintated all traffic signals between the Int. Airport and downtown.

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    That was one of the plans, hence why 91st has a great Whitemud overpass, such large Right of Ways, and the like. However, it would need Mill Creek Ravine to access the city - and that attempt was met with absolute horror. One possible re-routing would be to follow the CPR ROW behing the warehouses along ~ 60th avenue and then take the CPR ROW over Argyle and onto the Strathcona yards. There still are rumors that CP will leave that area and develop a better intermodal along the Henday, but I have not seen full confirmation of this.
    Tired of being taken advantage of .

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    Quote Originally Posted by RichardS
    That was one of the plans, hence why 91st has a great Whitemud overpass, such large Right of Ways, and the like. However, it would need Mill Creek Ravine to access the city - and that attempt was met with absolute horror. One possible re-routing would be to follow the CPR ROW behing the warehouses along ~ 60th avenue and then take the CPR ROW over Argyle and onto the Strathcona yards. There still are rumors that CP will leave that area and develop a better intermodal along the Henday, but I have not seen full confirmation of this.

    well they do own a large plot at the edge of the city...

  11. #11

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    Yes indeed a very importanat topic and one that has been avoided for too long.

    There are some hard realities that must be addressed regarding the Whitemud~Whyte avenue section. These businesses should be encouraged for thier own benefit to move locations. The real problem here is that the City and it's people (if they decide to go ahead with a plan to make this an esthetically pleasing and efficient drive) will indirectly make the businesses lose. The High speed traffic flow will kill the accessability of their shops and offices. Yes, what once was a strategic positive has become the very opposite, a disadvantage. This was inevitable and the only way to make it right is to teach the land owners that unless they want their land values to collapse, then they should sell at a reasonable rate to the City. The only way is to encourage through a transitional group how to re-locate all of these businesses to better strategic locations. It must be sold a s a win-win situation. It is a massive undertaking but one that is needed to redevelop the entrance to a booming and expanding Metropolis. This could be done in such a way as to be a bold new way of redevloping large areas of lands by involving those affected and re-locating them to better strategic areas. A scary proposition, I can see the letters to the Editor now, but if done right could be used as a model *(i.e. transitional urban design) for many a city.

    The other main consideration is how do you get people across the river without destroying the valuable resource taht is the River Valley?

    My idea is this, to start tunneling before Whyte avenue, at minimum begin with a open culvert until tunneling becomes needed About 84th or 85th avenues. The last exit from Gateway is to enter the Old Strathcona district. After driving down through the tunnel system, the road enters the Valley at about half way down the valley hill, similar to the LRT Menzies bridge. The bridge then continues on without a built up berm but is built above the ground crossing the river and overpassing the Rossdale build up and Native burial grounds. I would think that this height would be high enough not to shadow these grounds but with a well designed bridge could enhance the area. The key lies here in that the bridge would have to be a very well designed modern beauty that would make people say 'Wow', One that blends in with the valley but as well stands out and is soemthing to admire.

    For the environmentalists and River Valley protectors it would leave the top half of the valley intact, while preserving the bottom half as well. Win Win in my humble opinion. The valley protectors must realize that this is a need that will not go away and that this is the best solution to keep the Valley intact.

    Not sure how the expressway would link up on the other (North) side, any ideas?

    Just for kickers I would suggest having three lanes of traffic with a center tunnel for LRT/high speed Airport connector, may seem redundant but if you are going to dig than you might as well do it all at once.
    Not a cheap solution but not a Whyte elephant either, fundamental infrastructure that would solve a huge problem for the city.

    Am I way off base here?

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    I talked to a transit rep at our Next Gen event this evening about Gateway. Basically his line was that it isn't worth the amount of money that it would cost to build an expressway, sink a tunnel at 104 and the valley, etc, etc.

    The business community, downtown specifically, really needs to get vocal about this to show that it IS a big deal.
    LA today, Athens tomorrow. I miss E-town.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MylesC
    Basically his line was that it isn't worth the amount of money that it would cost to build an expressway, sink a tunnel at 104 and the valley, etc, etc.

    .
    Are you serious??? Did he give a basis for his conclusion?
    Tired of being taken advantage of .

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by MylesC
    I talked to a transit rep at our Next Gen event this evening about Gateway. Basically his line was that it isn't worth the amount of money that it would cost to build an expressway, sink a tunnel at 104 and the valley, etc, etc.

    The business community, downtown specifically, really needs to get vocal about this to show that it IS a big deal.
    I'm sorry, but I can smell the conflict of interest from over a thousand km's away; a "transit rep" trashing road improvements? HELLO?

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    no kidding...hence why I am curious to see his justification for his thoughts...
    Tired of being taken advantage of .

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    Quote Originally Posted by RichardS
    Are you serious??? Did he give a basis for his conclusion?
    Like I said, it came down to cost. With the 1 billion or whatever it would cost to build a bridge, sink the road, etc, you could build the LRT. Also since it's a truck road the tunnel would have to be very tall and people don't like tunnels in general.

    Very much following the TMP. No new road construction within the Inner Ring Road.
    LA today, Athens tomorrow. I miss E-town.

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    So, then more self serving for budget $$. Oh well...

    People DON'T like tunnels? Wha???

    Trucks, right. Like they don't have a plethora of other routes, like 99th where the vast majority of the warehouse access is anyway...
    Tired of being taken advantage of .

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    Quote Originally Posted by RichardS
    Are you serious??? Did he give a basis for his conclusion?
    Other than too expensive for its benefits, no.

    However, he did clear up some things about the 87th Ave LRT route. The facts and numbers could have been presented in a lot more detailed manner to the public to explain just exactly how that route will be cheaper.

    I dunno. Overall in my conversations with transit planners in this city I've come away very uncertain as to what exactly they're doing over there.
    LA today, Athens tomorrow. I miss E-town.

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    It never ceases to amaze me. Why cannot companies and divisions figure out that clear, concise communication backed up by facts will get people onside more than trying to ram youf opinion through?
    Tired of being taken advantage of .

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    Ok, so I mentioned in my column that there was a section of Paul D. Grant's book that describes his ride into Edmonton. While there are some slight inaccuracies in his recollection (no Leon’s on Gateway), and a slightly racist comment I have left out, the overall sentiment is there. This should be REQUIRED reading for every city planner that thinks Gateway is OK.

    Well, here it is...

    Quote Originally Posted by Baptism by Ice, Paul D. Grant, Chapter YEG, pp. 96 - 97

    (...)Even though it was about six degrees outside in the sunny morning, the heat inside the taxi was set to "popcorn." I asked the cabbie to crank is down a notch before we turned into those crunchy, burned bits at the bottom of the bowl. Alongside the road, frozen tundra touched each compass point. Snow-blanketed flatness stretched forever, interrupted by a few stubborn trees. We weren’t at the Arctic Circle, but the dotted line was just beyond the horizon. Snowmobile trails wound through the fields. Dave had never seen a snowmobile before. Unfathomable.

    “This reminds me of driving through Illinois,” Dave said, his apt description making me uncomfortable.

    After beginning to think that the cabbie was taking us for a ride, or had misunderstood and was driving us back to Calgary, we were up at the city’s outskirts. “Welcome to Edmonton, City of Champions” a green sign with gold lettering greeted us. Our destination was the Hotel Macdonald, yet another Fairmont property, certainly the most famous hotel in the city.

    “Where is this hotel?” the cabbie asked us, mystified. How I missed Canadian accents. I gave him directions, feeling shame when I realized that I wasn’t using “please” and “thank you.” Too many years in New York. The cabbie assumed that we were from Toronto.

    Urban sprawl slid by as we drove deeper into the city, crossing over Major Whitemud Drive, 63 Avenue, and Whyte Avenue. Nameless strip malls blurred beside us, but they contained everyday names I had begun to forget: Canadian Tire, Chapters, Tim Hortons, Marks Work Warehouse, Future Shop, Petro-Canada, Indigo, Leon’s, Shoppers Drug Mart, Winners, the Brick, Home Hardware –

    Suddenly, glory. Ahead of us, the North Saskatchewan River glimmered silver in the low winter sun, winding south of downtown. Hills and trees protected the water, brownish hectares along it absent of condos and warehouses, the shiny water free of tugboats. The city sat respectfully behind, in the shadows. I had become so accustomed to seeing city rivers clogged by factories, decaying facades, leaky barges, and riverboat casinos that the beautiful barrenness along the Saskatchewan took my breath away. Compared with the scary dockyards along the Mississippi in St. Louis and the toxic rudeness of the Hudson and East rivers on either side of Manhattan, this was the fountain of youth. In that cab, my opinion of Edmonton changed.

  21. #21

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    The entrance to downtown needs to be taken care of properly via Gateway. The road as it sits is sh**. I recall several times getting clients or visitors from out of town and the first response when taking this route is who is the fool who did this. This is the worst entrance to downtown I have seen in any city in my life. Thats real high praise. Then once you get to the Walterdale you essentually take 4 lanes of traffic on 2 lanes and the bridge deck does lots to inspire this is a city that cares about its image. It looks terrible and then with the power plant we look like we are worse than what you would expect in a third world country. Its time we wake up and fix this properly and not do it by putting plants on the side of the road. It needs to be properly addressed.

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    I wish the City would just pull up its socks and do this entrance RIGHT ONCE AND FOR ALL! Tunnel down, build a new bridge...do whatever it takes to make it right!

    With the decommisioning of Rossdale planned for 2009, there is a ridiculous amount of potential for redevelopment in the area. A great new portal to Downtown and how about...a Museum of Modern Industry?

    We need this!

  23. #23

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    I drive from 34th to downtown everyday along this route and am intimately familiar with the traffic flow and the "ugly" factor. But I also have lived in the river valley, and near whitemud, Mckinnon ravine and know just how big a hole it takes to take a 4 lane road through the river's edge.

    As I see it there are 4 areas of the route that need seperate treatment:
    1) South of 23rd
    2) 23rd to 51st
    3) 51st to the Old Scona Gate
    4) Old Scona Gate to 97 ave and 105st

    1) South of 23rd:

    Enough with the overpasses already! We are stuck in a perpetual construction zone with overly complicated interchanges. Lets finish up, get the interchange at 23rd fast tracked and done with, then try and do some landscaping so it looks a little less like concrete spaghetti. Don't skimp on the landscaping. I realize to a civil engineer all that concrete may be a beautiful thing... but most people aren't civil engineers.

    2) 23rd to 51st:

    This section of the road actually isn't that bad. As I see it, it needs two things - a lot more trees ( especially after we lost a lot to the drought, ) and a lot less temporary signs with neon lettering. To the credit of the developers that now own the property that contains the Canadian Tire, Zellers and Toys R Us there seem to be fewer of these eyesores than in the past. The sign issue is a tricky one, as the city has tried to introduce rules limiting them in the past, and lost in court. It may require some creative wheeling and dealing, with the city actually paying the store owners to agree not to place signs along gateway.

    3) 51st to Old Scona Gate:

    This section is for the most part just plain ugly. Especially the east side south of Argyll. No offense to the owners but the Hubcap store does nothing for the city's image. The road is also in bad shape, and rather narrow south of Argyll. I thnk the only real solution would be for the city to bite the bullet and do a landswap, or if need be, buy out the owners of the businesses along the west and east side along the worst 2-3 blocks. south of Argyll and the few business north of the city road maintenance yards on the east side of Gateway north of Argyll.

    4) Old Scona Gate to 97th ave at the bottom of the 105th street hill:

    This section is, in my opinion the area that causes the greatest trafic delays and will cost the most to fix. The other 3 sections are primarily cosmetic, but here, the approach into town requires major construction. A high level bridge would save the river bank, but it will be costly, traffic will still be held up at whyte avenue, and there is no easy place to anchor the north end of the bridge on the downtown side. A low level bridge is better, but a conventional approach means cutting out most of queen elizabeth park, all of the end of steel green space turning into a large trench, and you still have cars sitting in traffic outside the iron horse waiting for lights to change.

    So for the "think big" idea. A tunnel.

    A sizable portion of the traffic on gateway turns onto whyte avenue, so 2 or 3 traffic lanes would be adequate to carry the through traffic. If a Tunnel was built starting just beside the strathcona gate and emerging below 104st on QE park road the series of lights that cause most of the delays would be avoided. Gateway at whyte could be narrowed providing larger sidewalks for shoppers and Old Scona would not have large amounts of traffic routed through what is supposed to be a pedestrian friendly area. The river bank and greenspace would be saved, and indeed Saskatchewan drive and the QE park road would see less traffic or in the case of the latter even be closed to traffic, improving the park environment.

    From the tunnel entrance a new 4 lane walterdale/105st bridge could be built that would be a signature entranceway into the city, replacing the old rusty iron structure there now. This bridge could be at a higher elevation, taking traffic from the gateway tunnel and walterdale hill over river road to a block south of 97th ave. River Road could then be re-aligned moving it away from the old fort edmonton graveyard.

    Infill condo development in the Telus field area could be used to defray some of the costs, and should Epcor finally move from the powerplant redevelopment there could also be used to offset costs

    This is not going to be cheap... probably $100 million plus for the bridge and twice that for the tunnel minimum. Another 100 - 200 million for the rest of gateway and you are looking at over half a billion doallrs. However, compare this to the costs of interchanges on the anthony henday, whitemud freeway extensions and the like and it is not unreasonable for the city's "Front entrance".

    We need to improve traffic flow, and improve the cosmetics...but we also can't just push a freeway straight through to the centre of town through watever is in the way. Old Strathcona, our River valley park, our historical heritage are all part of what makes Edmonton what it is. If we are willing to think beyond the "simple" solutions and pay the money we can save all that and have an entrance to our city that will impress visitors, not be viewed with contempt.

  24. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by murman
    Quote Originally Posted by MylesC
    I talked to a transit rep at our Next Gen event this evening about Gateway. Basically his line was that it isn't worth the amount of money that it would cost to build an expressway, sink a tunnel at 104 and the valley, etc, etc.

    The business community, downtown specifically, really needs to get vocal about this to show that it IS a big deal.
    I'm sorry, but I can smell the conflict of interest from over a thousand km's away; a "transit rep" trashing road improvements? HELLO?

    All the money that it would cost to rebuild Gateway and add a new bridge is going to pay off in an improved image for our city. The payoffs for that may very well be huge, but they are also somewhat intangible. They certainly won't show up anytime soon in the form of increased transit department budgets.

    The transit planner is doing his job. His job doesn't include grand strategic vision ( besides, we had years of such planners that thought the only theing the river valley was good for was to turn into a freeway to get people to the suburbs. ) It is the job of city council to set these strategic goals. Then the planners figure out how to do it.

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    Welcome CSR!

    I can agree with a lot of your sentiments, but we do need more overpasses. The last thing our major roads need to be is another Yellowhead/Whitemud nightmare of stop light after stop light. AHD has a plethora of stop lights planned for it, and this is our "fast and efficient" ring road?

    I agree about the money being well spent. I know some planners who think the LRT is the end all be all of the airport access and southern access issue, but it is not. Mr/Mrs businessperson does NOT want to be sitting next to Suzie Creamcheese as she blathers on and on and on to her like friends about like how like hard her like Mom is to her for making her work so like HARD???!!!! Like, really, her bathroom does not need to be cleaned and like really, what are mom's for??? (yes, I had to endure this while trying to make a business call on my cell). Business folks want to make travel time productive time, and that quiet spot in a cab is a great place to get a lot done in a short time. I know as I take advantage of these times when I travel.

    Business folks and travellers that are not commuters will want point a to b access as long as the vehicle remains an option. Native Edmontonians will park and ride, so the LRT stops at Heritage/Century Park...

    I love the tunnel idea. That is something that PROMOTE-Edmonton members routinely talk about. Now that several others are on board - HOORAY! Obviously there is some sense to this.
    Tired of being taken advantage of .

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    i wish the city had an ARP overlay that prevented certain industries from reopening along our BLVD.......in that once closed the city would have 1st right to purchase or approve a suitable replacement.


    23-51 is fine.... but 51- to whyte is a mess.


    and we do need better downtown linkage.

  27. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by RichardS
    Welcome CSR!

    I can agree with a lot of your sentiments, but we do need more overpasses.

    ...

    I agree about the money being well spent. I know some planners who think the LRT is the end all be all of the airport access and southern access issue, but it is not.
    I'm not against overpasses where needed for traffic flow, but I do thing that they've gone overboard on the calgary trail / ring route exchange. It seems excessively complex with a lot of very expensive flyovers.

    I'm actually a fan of LRT or high speed bus transit, and eventually, I'd like a line out to the airport. But for now, when one considers the politcal hassle with the county of leduc, the cost, and the need to make an express service ... no. I've flown into cities with train service to the airport and very often still take a cab. After a long flight I don't want to lug my bags onto a train, then find my way in an unfamiliar city, again draging my luggage behind me, to my hotel. Not to mention the odd hours of flights and the sometimes short notice... if I have a 5:15 am flight how am I going to get to the LRT with my bags at at least 4:10 am to make it to the airport? Is the LRT going to run 24/7? And if I have to take a cab to the nearest LRT station ( because thebuses don't run 24/7 ) why wouldn't I just pay the extra $25 and go straight to the airport?

    No, LRT to the airport is a good idea, but it's a lower priority than fixing the route into downtown.

    Oh, BTW - to theposter that mentioned that the tunnel would have to be tall because it's a truck route ... actually the truck route goes along Saskatchewan Drive to 99st and Scona Hill. I figure that for 3 lanes of traffic ( which is one more than you know get on Queen Elizabeth Park road ) you would need a 30ft diameter tunnel to give 3 - 10ft traffic lanes. That is bigger than an LRT tunnel (6.3m) but there are 10m TBM's out there. That would also provide approx. 15 foot clearance for the center lane, which is reasonably high. ( The bottom half of the tunnel probably be taken up by storm sewer and ventalation - unlike LRT, automotive tunnels have to deal with exhaoust gasses.)

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    I just don't think a 10 m circular tunnel would be sufficient. The useful area for vehicular traffic, I'd imagine would be limited to the center 5 m...or 2.5 m each way from the center. I believe the average car lane is 3.5 m to 4 m as well.

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    For building a tunnel would it be cheaper to build a trench insert the tube then fill it up the trench; or, would it be cheaper to drill a hole through the ground?

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    In this situation I don't think cut and cover would applicable, because you are essentially talking about excavating 100 feet of soil as you got close the River valley portal.

    I also believe a TBM would not be large enough for the necessary tunnel...however I stand to be corrected there.

    Traditional tunnelling may be the only viable option for the majority and cut and cover for the intial southern portal.

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    Oh my my, the double post.

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    Cut and cover is less expensive for challow depths, but the north end of the tunnel would be quite deep. Not to mention that you would be digging up river valley and major roads and you couldn't move the alignment under existing buildings. No, I don't think you could do this without a Tunnel Boring Machine.

    Minimum lane width for a US interstate is 12 feet or about 3.65 meters. City minimum standard lane widths range from 3.3 to 3.61 based on a quick internet search. The 3 lanes on the Lion's gate bridge before reconstruction were 3m each.

    Worst case, you only get 2-4m lanes out of the tunnel along with a safety walk along the sides. That is still 2 wide straight lanes going on to a 4 lane bridge at Walterdale compared to now where you have several lights, several unmarked crosswalks and uncontrolled intersections, the hairpin turn at the top of QE park road across oncoming traffic and then you have 4 lanes of traffic using a 2 lane bridge. Having a 3rd lane is a bonus, but not essential. As well, having only 2 lanes makes the ventilation task easier and allows a lower road surface and higher clearance.

  33. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by DanC

    Traditional tunnelling may be the only viable option for the majority and cut and cover for the intial southern portal.
    When they did the tunneling for the Grandin Station and out to the bridge site they did one Tunnel using a TBM and another using conventional techniques.

    The conventional tunnellers had two problems... the first is that our soil is soft glacial till, and therefore shoring is critical. The second, whcih would also have caused some problems for a TBM was that they ran into a rock the size of a house.

    For the most part, TBM's love our soil, it's soft, but dry, and as they build the tunnel as they go through, shoring isn't a problem.
    Rocks just slow them down and use up more teeth, but they will go through granite. I don't know how well they would handle the situation of a single rock in soft soil like mentioned above however.

    One aspect of a tunnel that would need to be looked at however is that of emergency egress. I know that in some places there are regulations indicating that a pedestrain emergency exit be located every 300 feet or so. Depending on how many of these exits were required and their spacing it might mean that a small escape tunnel be built alongside the main traffic tunnel. Either that or starwells would have to dug that would run from the surface to the tunnel at couple block intervals.

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    I think the tunneling idea is a non-starter. Too much cost and too much political fallout. Also, there are already several bridges in this area - LRT, High Level, Walterdale, Macdonald, Low Level, Dawson. Besides, once one gets to the river valley all is good, it's getting there that is the problem. And the hairpin turn on Scona Drive is very Grande Prix Monte Carlo'esque!

    23rd to Whyte is the eyesore. 34 Ave intersection is a real pain when you're driving in from the south - the only stop between what will be a great underpass at 23rd and the non-stop Whitemud. Too many big box store developments during the 90s in my opinion.

    I'm all for the City buying up the land in the middle of Gateway and Calgary Tr. between 51 and Whyte. A lot of it is small to medium sized businesses and industrial areas that do not need to be there.
    Why not take back this land, level it, and put up some trees or allow nature to take its course. Maybe a bike trail or park could be put there instead.

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    Something needs to be done and fast. Gateway is terrible. I personally think we should od the tunneling and while we are at it get ride of the Walterdale and build a new bridge say 4 lanes across the river. We need to clean up this major entrance into downtown. It just irritates me every time I visit another city and see how the main drag to downtown and then compare it with my trip downtown everyday.

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    With the redo of the walterdale last year I wondered why they don't (didn't) just do it right and replace it. Rip it down to the piers and reuse. I'm sure that the existing concrete could support 3 wider lanes AND a nicer sidewalk. It prob'ly wouldn't have taken any longer.

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    The thing that should be done is to clean up Gateway up to Whyte Avenue. That is where the big cosmetic problem is that leaves a bad taste in vistors mouths and makes us look like some sort of junkyard town.

    If things or left the same, minor improvements made, a tunnel built or traffic re-routed across the Highlevel northbound you still have to clean up and fix the south Gateway eyesore.

    It is also the least expensive part of the plan... a few years ago I read that the transportation dept thought it would cost $70 million.

    Our city this year has a surplus of $30 million. We can afford this much at least.

    And the cosmetics is the biggest problem. The cab ride from Vancouver's airport to downtown costs almost as much, takes as long and you spend you time on Oak(?) street stuck in traffic. It's just somewhat prettier. Not a lot. There are drycleaners, video rental places and chinese take out places at the south end of the route... but most of it is routed through a residential neighbourhood ( good planning! ) which looks better than a truck sandblasting outfit, a hubcap store and building salvage yard. Replace those with trees, shrubs, flowers in summer, scuplture and visitors won;t mind the delay up at Whyte avenue.

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    You beat me to it, CSR, but I was going to say that Vancouver's downtown is just as hard to get to. Route 99 from the airport, ferry terminal and the US border requires one to make a few detour-like turns once you're over the bridge from Richmond and then a long road with lots of lights. Coming east from the Trans-Canada? You take Hastings St, which is about as bad as Gateway in terms of cosmetics but also going through the "legendary" east side. Coming from Nanaimo or Whistler? An overcrowded bridge.

    As for Gateway and Cowtown Trail - I do like the idea of a tunnel under Old Strathcona. Unfortunately, I doubt if the city is very fond with the mere notion of tunnels, if the demise of the Rat Hole is any indication. Hey, maybe this can be Rat Hole II!!!

    If the CPR line along Gateway is indeed pulling out then I agree that would be an ample area for a freeway from the QEII to downtown. However, I get the feeling that the CPR lands will instead be slated for a future high-speed rail line to Calgary.

    So 91 Street was supposed to be our Deerfoot Trail, eh? Typical that the city FUBARed that opportunity. But then again, it's a grand excuse to bulldoze South Edmonton Common!!

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    I was bored last night so I drew this up. Apparently the largest TBM cuts tunnels 12.87 m dia tunnels. I assumed this was interior diameter. I also saw something about 14 m. Anyways...

  40. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sonic Death Monkey
    So 91 Street was supposed to be our Deerfoot Trail, eh? Typical that the city FUBARed that opportunity. But then again, it's a grand excuse to bulldoze South Edmonton Common!!
    Actually there was a plan, dating back to the '50s of which the James Macdonald is the most visible part that would have seen a 6 lane freeway coming down from 98th across the Macdonald, along river road to Mckinnon Ravine and out to the west. 98th woud join up and become the sherwood park freeway.

    Highway 2 would come along 91st, paved the botom of mill creek and join in at the James Macdonald.

    A 4 lane bridge would take connors road traffic across to 95th street and 109th street traffic would travel via a new 4 lane walterdale bridge to a new interchange at river road.

    Add in assorted fly overs and ramps and you get the entire river valley turned into a concrete trough for cars.

    At the same time, the plans were for a convention centre area to be where the CN tower and old via station are now, and downtown would be facing north with the river valley as basically a freeway out back. All the river valley communities would be gone ( indeed, most were expropriated and put under "no build" regulations... what you see now is only the small fraction that managed to survive.)

    So, whatever we may think of things now, they could of been much much worse in my opinion.

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    No, you're right...that "alternative universe E-town" sounds worse.

    Quote Originally Posted by CSR
    you get the entire river valley turned into a concrete trough for cars.
    It already looks like that around the Low Level and James MacDonald bridges. What a convoluted mess! I say tear all that up and start again.

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    Amen.....Richard and a D9....WHEEEEEEE
    Tired of being taken advantage of .

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sonic Death Monkey
    No, you're right...that "alternative universe E-town" sounds worse.

    Quote Originally Posted by CSR
    you get the entire river valley turned into a concrete trough for cars.
    It already looks like that around the Low Level and James MacDonald bridges. What a convoluted mess! I say tear all that up and start again.
    Why? The area around James Mac does a pretty good job handling the traffic of three major roadways. Connors Road and 99 st are major connectors to the south side and 98 ave picks up all the eastern traffic from Sherwood Park. Other than going south bound and trying to get to 98 ave, things are pretty good.

    The major problem is back ups during the afternoon rush hour on 99 st. It just is not capable of handling the amount of traffic going up those two narrow lanes.

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    Why? Because the roads are a mess and then don't lead anywhere. There has to be a better set of collectors...
    Tired of being taken advantage of .

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    It would be impossible to access Downtown from the south and east without it. I drive it everyday and I guess I find it very convinient, espeacially coming out of Downtown and up Connors Hill.

    It would be impossible to redo that set of roadways...I just don't see how you could do it without making it impossible to access Downtown.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sonic Death Monkey
    It already looks like that around the Low Level and James MacDonald bridges. What a convoluted mess! I say tear all that up and start again.
    Amen.

    The system down there really is a mess. My biggest beef are those lights where Conners and 99th join together before the Low Level.

    And speaking of the Low Level, those bridges are almost ready to go. Perfect time to think of redoing the entire area with roads that properly flow and merge and are of the correct width. No more of this 1950s stop-gap measure.

    It would be a massive undertaking, but one that is sorely needed, IMHO.
    LA today, Athens tomorrow. I miss E-town.

  47. #47

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    Quote Originally Posted by DanC
    It would be impossible to access Downtown from the south and east without it. I drive it everyday and I guess I find it very convinient, espeacially coming out of Downtown and up Connors Hill.

    It would be impossible to redo that set of roadways...I just don't see how you could do it without making it impossible to access Downtown.
    Again it comes down to bridges.

    Most traffic wants to go north - south, but the best bridge is oriented east west.

    Take it as a given that we don't to pave any ravines or destroy any more river valley housing.

    The problems with the old Walterdale / 105th street bridge are well known.

    The high level is a historical resource... while we could perhaps put another traffic deck on top I don't know what that extra loading would do to the old girl. And narrow as it is, and with the funky approaches and all it still does a pretty good job.

    So that leaves the Low Level and the Dawson bridge.

    The Dawson bridge could be widened, but the roads to it are a limiting factor. The Dawson corridor plan died because it looked like they would only be able to make a 3 lane road for a large outlay of money. Now housing has been built that means even the 3 lane road is out.

    The low level could be replaced. Yes it's our first bridge, but it's not exactly beautiful. If we really wanted to save it, use it as a bridge from fort edmonton to the Valley zoo.

    A curved 4 lane structure with wide bike / pedestrian paths could be built. The curve would eliminate the sharp turns at the north end and allow a smooth reverse curve to McDougal Hill. Get rid of the overpass and instead run Rossdale Rd / Grierson Hill under the new low level bridge. Use the overpass space currently at the bottom of McDougal to join Rossdale rd. That will save a lot of what is now paved space. You have a 2 lane rossdale road, and a 4 lane bridge / road leading to Mcdougal hill.

    It will also keep the bridge above flood level.

    As for the south side with the James Macdonald... you already have a set of lights. If people have to stop anyway, make a proper intersection and save space... for that matter, since there isn't going to be a double freeway join up anymore, replace the two approach bridges on the east end of the james macdonald with one and make a tighter interchange pattern. There is about three blocks of space there that is wasted. It can't be used for residential as it's too broken up, and as a park it's mostly grass that needs to be mowed. Not to mention who is going to cross six lanes of traffic for a picnic?

    I really don't think there is much point making the roads too streamlined, you still get tied up in lights seconds later when you hit downtown. Better to save the valley for better things at the cost of one or two more sets of lights.

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    What are the chances of the city doing a major rezoning and demolition of the buildings on the right side of Gateway? If they could somehow acquire the CP Rail tracks also we could have enough room for a decent sized freeway.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Speedyturtle
    If they could somehow acquire the CP Rail tracks also we could have enough room for a decent sized freeway.
    CP would have to leave first, and they just finished saying that although they are planning a new intermodal on the South East side, their Strathcona Yards will remain operational. I really don't know why they would want to continue to run trains that far into town...
    Tired of being taken advantage of .

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    For length maybe? Or they just want to make sure they can sell the land for high value development, not low value, but much needed, transportation infrastructure. Who knows? We ended up tunnelling to the river and building the new LRT bridge because CP was being a such a pain about releasing the High level. Once we no longer wanted it for LRT they suddenly got all civic minded and pretty much gave it away.

    Even if we did have access to all the CP lands I don't think we would want a "freeway" as such. You have problems if you suddenly dump higway traffic into urban streets. But certainly a roadway that was more attractive, with limited intersections that would gradually change from highway to urban arterial by the time it reached the river would be splendid.

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    Well if we were to ever acquire the CP lands we'd pretty much have a direct route to downtown, and maybe even divert some southbound traffic there as well. We could still use Gateway and Cgy Trail for the slower urban traffic and use this newer route as a quick route to and from downtown. Heck we could even call it the CP exressway or something.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CSR
    For length maybe? Or they just want to make sure they can sell the land for high value development, not low value, but much needed, transportation infrastructure. Who knows? We ended up tunnelling to the river and building the new LRT bridge because CP was being a such a pain about releasing the High level. Once we no longer wanted it for LRT they suddenly got all civic minded and pretty much gave it away.
    The cynic in me says you are right. Just like the high level bridge and the Whitemud Drive/99th overpass that conveniently has trains moving mainly in rush hour, CP and civic minded to Edmonton seem to not be synonymous. I don’t see the need for the Strathcona yards if they move to the South East. That new yard will be so removed from Strathcona that any switching/turning value would be moot in my opinion.

    I think that any design that was a freeway would have to become arterial by around whyte, unless they cut and cover starting just back from the Iron Horse. Then the 60k zone would be as soon as you enter the tunnel.

  53. #53

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    Quote Originally Posted by Edmonchuck
    I think that any design that was a freeway would have to become arterial by around whyte, unless they cut and cover starting just back from the Iron Horse. Then the 60k zone would be as soon as you enter the tunnel.
    Without a tunnel of some sort you won't gain much because you end up at Whyte avenue. Withthe CP lands you could do a cheaper cut and cover from the iron horse to a slightly realigned QE park road by the pool. You still have the bridge to deal with though.

    I would Try and tie 91st into the rail yard space and make it the new approach and leave the at grade intersection with a light at 51 st, and possibly another set of lights around University ave south of Whyte. Then under the end of the rail park to QE park road and the bridge.. Get rid of the lights on 91st south of the whitemud at 34th and 23rd ( any more? )

    2 lights between leduc and Walterdale isn't bad, but it will get people to realize they are coming into a city environment. so they aren't still doing 90 + at the top of the river valley.

    ( From 23rd to the River is about 8 km... the difference between a 60 km speed limit and a 100km limit is about 3 minutes. That 3 minuts is worth it to avoid the problems and dangers of people going from highway speeds to congested pedestrain clogged downtown streets with no transition. And since on a good road people will speed, better to have one or two sets of lights than a bunch of speed traps.)

    I'd keep Gateway for a local service route. and alternate downtown access.

    But without the CP lands, this is all just wishful thinking

  54. #54

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    Well we cannot be sure there is no need for the Strathcona Yards. Granted I dont think there is but CP may still have plans for something or need for it. Its kinda like why CN still has the years by the airport. Granted I dont think they need it but we cannot be sure. Anyways that would be great if we did get those as a transportation corridor and basically have a line for a freeway right into downtown.

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    CN's Calder Yards is on their mainline, not a branch line... plus they did pull out of DT...
    Tired of being taken advantage of .

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    personally i dont want to see a freeway coming downtown....but we do need less access points better light timing, and very much need to improve the aesthetics of the route from whitemud to whyte avenue.

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    Well, we probably wouldn't need a freeway to downtown right away. I'm thinking when our population gets to about 1.2-1.5 million we'll need an alternate freeway to transfer the traffic away from Calgary Trail/Gateway Blvd.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Speedyturtle
    Well, we probably wouldn't need a freeway to downtown right away. I'm thinking when our population gets to about 1.2-1.5 million we'll need an alternate freeway to transfer the traffic away from Calgary Trail/Gateway Blvd.

    vancouver doesnt need one....

  59. #59

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    Quote Originally Posted by IanO
    Quote Originally Posted by Speedyturtle
    Well, we probably wouldn't need a freeway to downtown right away. I'm thinking when our population gets to about 1.2-1.5 million we'll need an alternate freeway to transfer the traffic away from Calgary Trail/Gateway Blvd.

    vancouver doesnt need one....
    Well, when everyone in vancouver is waiting till 11am for plumbers or carpenters or people to show up because they live in the Valley and it takes them 3 hours to get downtown...

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    We don't need a freeway. We need an expressway. Which we have. We just need a better one.

    From 23rd to whitemud, Why not split into 2 commercial access lanes and 3-4 through lanes, with a median in between. There's lots of room there, no need for CP land

    Close more driveways from whitemud to argyle, especially near argyle.

    Argyle could eventually go under gateway, it already drops for the tracks.

    A tunnel will eventually be needed. The only other options are:
    A highlevel Bridge
    An open cut
    A huge spiral ramp
    none are ever going to happen

    Plus, add space for just one track, and the in 28 years when it is finally viable to run high-speed trains to cow-town, you build a signature, 1 track bridge at mid valley. Puncture the northslope at 106th st. & connect to the unfinished station that was roughed in in 2013 When the central multimodal transit hub and Jasper Gardens Arena were built on the 2006 BP's, ex-healy ford site.

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    All good ideas...but couldn't we use the HLB for the high speed rail line - if and when it ever happens? We could build the HSR station on top of Grandin - easy link to LRT.
    Tired of being taken advantage of .

  62. #62
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    We're getting off topic, but I don't like grandin for a terminus. I lived right there for a couple years, and Grandin Station has none if the hustle-bustle downtown/urban feel that even corona has.

    I'm also partial to the idea of thehighlevel streetcar being extended and going year-round, which would make scheduling tough, with the 1 track tunnel.

    I ALSO think that an additional SB lane on the top of the high level would be an easy addition. Even just so busses/ambulances maybe HOV can bypass the slow moving 1 occupant vehicles.

    Anyways, HSR tunnel/station only makes sense if it can be tunneled with Gateway ( back on topic!), there is a block for a downtown transport hub(another topic), and it is full-electric, real 1 hour to cowtown High speed train.

    Cause if it's not worth doing well, It's not worthdoing at all.

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    true enough...
    Tired of being taken advantage of .

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    Quote Originally Posted by highlander
    and it is full-electric, real 1 hour to cowtown High speed train.
    There are no trains in production that could make the Edmonton Calgary route in an hour, even if they didn't stop in Red Deer.
    We all here about the GV and it's 300 kph speed, but that is the record on highspeed runs on specially selected sections of track with empty trains with favourable weather.

    In service, you are looking at 200 kph.

    Also, re the high level: When it was refurbished some years ago, I'm not sure if they rebuilt it to handle extra traffic decks. Before the reno it was up for discussion if it would even be able to handle the stresses from just 2 regular lanes of traffic.

    Just before we make plans for the high level to carry anything more than it does now, maybe we should find out from someone in the know if it can do that without millions in rebuilding costs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CSR
    We ended up tunnelling to the river and building the new LRT bridge because CP was being a such a pain about releasing the High level. Once we no longer wanted it for LRT they suddenly got all civic minded and pretty much gave it away.
    Is that what happened? CPR got greedy and lost millions of dollars on a sale, the city got stubborn and spent millions digging the LRT 23m underground and millions more to bring it up? I always wondered why the LRT wasn't run across the top of the high level and then south along Gateway.

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    It was the university that insisted the LRT be built underground at the campus. Not a great decision in hindsight.

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    In terms of overall system completion timeline, bad decision.

    However, the payoff from putting it directly under the university as opposed to having the U as a spur line is and will be incredible.

    But how about that Gateway, eh? Bringing things back on topic

  68. #68

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    Gateway needs to be redone and most all of the industrail should be removed. I would love the city to rezone it all and once a building is not occupied to rebuild walkups with retail on the main floor. It woulr change the landscape entirely.

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    With all the talk of long tunnels and megabridges, has anyone thought of what would become of all of that new traffic once it got downtown? The freeway/expressway would have to end somewhere and the new bottleneck would be there. It's not like traffic congestion ends on the north side of the Walterdale bridge. If it seems that way it's usually because someone got all freaked out by the corrugated steel bridge decking and decided they had to do 30, only to step on the gas once they are back on asphalt (just in time for the light to turn red).
    The 23 Av interchange should solve a lot of problems when it is finished and the only other major bottleneck is Whyte Av. After 23 Av is done, a couple of short tunnels / underpasses could be considered: A new "rat hole" between 81 Av and 83 Av could take two lanes under Whyte with three lanes (a left turn, right turn and a left/right/straight through option) remaining at-grade. Two lanes could also be taken under Saskatchewan Drive to meet Queen Elizabeth Park road, replacing the hairpin with a 90° left and bypassing the lights (which would probably no longer be required). Finally, widening, twinning or replacing the Walterdale bridge to provide 3 or 4 lanes across the river would feed about as much traffic onto 105 St and Bellamy Hill as they could handle.
    I just don't see the point of anything more elaborate than that through old Strathcona and the river valley.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Titanium48
    With all the talk of long tunnels and megabridges, has anyone thought of what would become of all of that new traffic once it got downtown? The freeway/expressway would have to end somewhere and the new bottleneck would be there. .
    Yep, but they are then downtown. People expect traffic once they hit the core.
    Tired of being taken advantage of .

  71. #71

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    Titanium:

    Actually that is what most people are talking about with a Tunnel, but to get under Whyte ave you have to start a couple fo blocks south... the nearest open land that one could aquire unless CP moves out entirely is by the Scona Gate.

    You could just cut and cover until you got to the top of the bank, but you would have trouble with re-routing utilities and you still would have a hairpin turn to get onto the QE park road...only the hirpin would now be at the end of the tunnel.

    You still need a new bridge, as mentioned.

    So for the extra cost it's just as well to tunnel from the strathcona gate to mid bank where you will be aligned better for a new bridge.

    I think most people agree that traffic needs to be slowed down before it hits downtown, so one or two lights isn't a huge issue.

    The biggest problems with Gateway it seems are 23rd ( to be fixed ) the cosmetic aspects of it, especially between 51st and about 76st. And the traffic flow problems at Whyte avenue, top of bank and Walterdale bridge. These problems are more than just general congestion, but problems of direction and pedestrian safety.

    The Cosmetic make over can be done now, it's not a mega project and isn't going ot cost hundreds of millions... and it can be done a block at a time if need be.

    That leaves the big work of a Tunnel / bridge ... which I realize will cost a great deal and I don't expect it within 5 years, maybe not even 10. But it doesn't even seem to be on the horizon in the city plans... the current set up is expected to last forever.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CSR
    which I realize will cost a great deal and I don't expect it within 5 years, maybe not even 10. But it doesn't even seem to be on the horizon in the city plans... the current set up is expected to last forever.
    ...or longer...
    Tired of being taken advantage of .

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    Apparently Anthony Henday and 23rd Ave Interchange will solve the entire city's problems forever.

  74. #74

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    The transportation master plan doesn't take into account the city's image at all. It also seems based on the assumption that people outside the inner ring roads will forever stay outside the ring roads and people inside will forever stay inside with only a few brave souls crossing the "great divide"

    And the priorities are based on that, moving people around the heart of the city, not to and from it. Which is why when you look at their 5 year list of accomplishments it is almost all outer ring road and freeway, while HST, either bus or rail is all still in the "concept" stage.

    Fixing Gateway would serve only to improve the image of the city, and you can almost hear the chorus of "that's not our job" and the only people in Edmonton it would serve would be those that want to go to or from downtown and Old scona, the heart of the city... and obviously those people must be weird because they don't fit the Plan.

  75. #75

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    Why, as I read all of the threads on this great board, do I get a distinct sense that municipal bureaucrats in planning and transportation don't seem to have a F^(*&@$#%^*&ING clue what's going on out there in the real world?

    Is this just an Edmonton thing? I'm beginning to wonder so, as I've been doing some (work-related) background comparisons between Calgary and Edmonton's various municipal department objectives and I'm sure you can guess what my research is telling me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by murman
    Is this just an Edmonton thing? I'm beginning to wonder so, as I've been doing some (work-related) background comparisons between Calgary and Edmonton's various municipal department objectives and I'm sure you can guess what my research is telling me.
    Why research? Simply driving in both cities should provide a good idea. Although the Trans-Canada through Calgary is even worse than the Yellowhead and McKnight gets severely backed-up between downtown and the Deerfoot, at least their infrastructure has long been well-planned for the most part.

  77. #77

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    All I have to do is drive from any major city in North America and compare that with what we have in Edmonton to let me know that the road to downtown is ****. Who the F**K has a hairpin turn on the main drive into downtown. That needs to be fixed somehow. Remember its all about image and a hairpin turn makes us look like a small town and not a major city. If we are a major city lets act like one. Get these (MOD EDIT - EXPLETIVE) transportation to our core fixed up. That means no more or 5 lanes to get across a 2 land bridge for either the Walterdale or the Low Level. No more hair pin turns, no more hubcap stores on the main drive to the core. No more trailerpark on 23 ave which is the last stop people do in the city. Perception is 90% of the battle we focus on the 10% and not work on the issues that any outsider will see.

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    Sorry to play the Mod hammer, but I deleted an expletive there...maybe use gosh darn next time...
    Tired of being taken advantage of .

  79. #79

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    Quote Originally Posted by RichardS
    Sorry to play the Mod hammer, but I deleted an expletive there...maybe use gosh darn next time...
    Appreciated. I myself have to hit backspace a lot these days when composing rants...

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    ME TOO!!!!
    Tired of being taken advantage of .

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    Quote Originally Posted by WMelhem
    Who the F**K has a hairpin turn on the main drive into downtown. That needs to be fixed somehow. Remember its all about image and a hairpin turn makes us look like a small town and not a major city. If we are a major city lets act like one.
    I've often wondered about that hairpin turn too. Couldn't we just carve out a path from Gateway onto that QE Park Rd that heads to the Walterdale Bridge? I don't think it would take that much effort and it avoids that annoying turn. Here's a pic with the path in red.


  82. #82

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    Speedy,

    You have to take into account the steepness of the grade. Just to keep the same incline as on the current QE park road you would have to extend those red lines back south along Gateway a block. That means the front street for the buildings on that block would actually be descending into a trench.

    You would of course have to build a bridge ro carry Sask Dr over the newly dug down Gateway.

    And finally, because of the way you are cutting into the bank to stop it from caving in on the road you would need either to cut back the river bank a long ways on either side to make a ( at maximum ) 33% slope or you would have to build some truly massive retaining walls

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    yep....and that would leave a scar on the valley that would bring out a HUGE contingent of protesters...I like the cut and cover model better than this...
    Tired of being taken advantage of .

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    I took a drive down that turn today approaching downtown and I realize now how steep that slope is. Darn 2D images.

  85. #85

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    Yep. Our river valley is as steep as a canyon, just too wide to be called that.

  86. #86

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    The one question I have for a tunnel from 76 Ave to the bottom of the river valley – can the soil support it? Remember the houses in Riverbend as well as Keiller Road – they fell in the valley. If a major tunnel was dug underneath Old Strathcona, would we have to worry about the hill becoming unstable?

    One common thing I’ve read is that the new tunnel/bridge should be 4 lanes (2 each way). While this is an improvement, I don’t think that would be enough. The traffic count would increase as you get closer to downtown, so reducing lanes from 4 to 2 would be sufficient. At the least, a new downtown approach would need 3 lanes each way. I have three possible ideas….

    1. 91 Street/Mill Creek Ravine

    If you look at one commonality with the major non-downtown bridges and approaches, you’ll notice they take advantage of ravines into the river valley. The Quensel, Groat, Capilano, and to an extent the Clover Bar bridges take advantage of existing ravines to approach the river. Mill Creek Ravine is wide enough that it could deal with the altitude change between the south side and the river valley. Further more, it would take advantage of the spaghetti bowl and the James MacDonald Bridge.

    Now before I get crucified for scarring the river valley/Mill Creek Ravine (which it would do), think of this. One of the common themes of this board is that Gateway Boulevard is not aesthetically pleasing, especially north of Argyll Road. Imagine driving into the city as far north as Whitemud Drive before hitting a single traffic light via 91 St, and as you drove closer to downtown, the route turns into a parkway. Think the Groat Road ravine, only safer.

    2. Graded Bridge / Causeway

    Assume that Mill Creek Ravine stays as it is now and traffic uses Gateway Boulevard. If the valley could handle it, construct a sloped causeway so traffic could descend at a sufficient grade. The cause way could theoretically stretch from Saskatchewan Drive to the north shore of the river – depending on construction styles. The causeway could be built on top of the current Queen Elizabeth Park Rd and if constructed properly, it could look nice. Minimum 3 lanes each way. Replace the Walterdale Bridge.

    On the north side, bring back a couple one-way streets in the core. Southbound only traffic would use 105 Street south of Jasper Ave (two way traffic north of Jasper) while northbound traffic would use Bellamy Hill/101 St up to Jasper Ave (two way traffic north of Jasper).

    3. Widen Saskatchewan Drive / Scona Road

    Widen Saskatchewan Drive to 4 lanes between 104 St/Calgary Tr and 99 St and install lane control. During the morning peak period, have 1 lane WB and 3 lanes EB; during the evening peak period have 3 lanes WB and 1 lane EB, and during the rest of the day 2 lanes each way (operating the same as the George Massey Tunnel in Vancouver). Past 99 St, widen the street to 6 lanes (or 5 lanes with a centre reversible lane).

    Even if the tunnel option or my option #2 were carried out, this could still serve as a good alternate route.

    Any thoughts?

  87. #87

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    I think you'll find that most think that the bridge should be 4 lanes one way into the city. This is because it now carries the traffic from 2 x 2 lane roads ( walterdale from 109th street and Queen Elizabeth from Gateway ) northbound into town. You could probably manage with 3 lanes, but if you have to build the bridge anyway, may as well build it at 4 lanes and lessen the trafic density.

    A tunnel boring machine removes the soil and replaces it as it digs with a circular concrete casing. This casing resists the pressure and transfers forces equally in all directions ... like and arch it is an immensely strong structure. The bank would be just as strong if not stronger. Also, the houses that slipped into the river ( besides being built on an unstable bank to begin with ) suffered because water flow activated a shear plane within the bank.
    We are after all talking about a tunnel somewhat bigger, but lower down than the LRT excavation to the west in similar soils and bank slopes and there hasn't been any problems there.

    91 street/ Mill creek - I don't think most edmontonians, including myself, would agree to destroying a major ravine bottom so people from out of town have a nice view for 4 minutes. Much as I want the entry way to our city improved I think sacrificing mill creek ravine is too high a cost, even if a financially cheaper option. On a more technical note, you would need to replace the low level bridge, which isn't a problem for me, but that leaves you with a lot of traffic ( Gateway + 99st NB ) all piled up at teh bottom of McDougal Hill. And that hill just can't handle it. So while you get the people downtown they they have to make a sharp sideways turn and end up heading away from downtown towards 109th street. Sending them along Walterdale means 3 - 4 lanes of traffic can continue straight up 105th street into downtown, but not right into the most congested section.

    Graded Bridge Causeway - Not 100% sure what you are getting at, but it sounds like a Capilano style bridge. If so you end up cutting down half the bank, have a trenched road back as far as Whyte avenue and a big dirt wall blocking the flatland areas of the river valley. Way to disruptive to the environment and communities.

    Widen Saskatchewan Drive - Near 99 street Sask drive is already overhanging the Valley edge and supported by buttressing... only a couple of years ago 1/3 of one lane slipped down the bank. And with the big newish building there you don't have room tp build away from the bank. Buildin a road on posts would be not only expensive but damaging to the river valley... and bank stability is a big factor in that sort of construction. As well don't forget skunk hollow - oops, I mean Lavigne or whatever fancy name they call it now. They are below Saskatchewan drive and won't want a 4 lane road hanging over their $750,000 + houses.


    A tunnel bridge gives you 4- 5 lanes into downtown...2 from Walterdale and 2-3 from the Tunnel. It takes heavy car traffic out of the heart of Old Scona, allowing the area to widen sidewalks and become more pedestrain friendly. It still allows one lane to continue along Sask drive to 99th, for access to downtown if desired... alternatelym Sask drive can be made one way to Calgary trail giving 2 outbound lanes. It has the advantage of being environmentally neutral after construction and minimally damaging during ( the big berm near Walterdale already uses the space where a Tunnel would come out, the river valley is already 'damaged'. Some damage would occur during construction ... but after construction QE park road would be closed or made a minor local access road, so that would regenerate 'better' than before.

    It's expensive but I still think a Tunnel is the best option to adress all the issues of traffic as well as appearance.

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    /\ your last line is the right line...
    Tired of being taken advantage of .

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    Another option for a Graded Causeway from Saskatchewan Drive to the Walterdale could be to landfill the bank below Sask Drive for a better downward slope, or some kind of bridge structure. I'm no engineer, but if do-able then I would imagine this would be less disruptive than shaving the cliff down to size.

  90. #90

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    Quote Originally Posted by Speedyturtle

    I've often wondered about that hairpin turn too. Couldn't we just carve out a path from Gateway onto that QE Park Rd that heads to the Walterdale Bridge? I don't think it would take that much effort and it avoids that annoying turn. Here's a pic with the path in red.
    I obviously need to start wearing more layers of aluminum foil on my head because I see from your diagram that my mind is being read quite easily.

    To heck with the steep banks. Build the large retaining walls. This road is near and dear to me as it was the first road I ever took into Edmonton. My experience went something like this:
    1- "Oh what an ugly city" *
    2 - Wow! That is breathtaking! **
    3 - Wait! Where the heck am I going? Do I turn here? What is up with "Three lanes turn right on red after stopping" I've never seen that before, isn't it illegal? Guess not if this sign says it's okay...What's with that hairpin? I think I needed to take that...Okay, too late.***


    *Calgary Trail Northbound as it was then called.
    ** The view of downtown as you approach Saskatchewan Drive is breathtaking. My first fleeting impression was that it reminded me of old Québec City, perched on top of Cap Diamant. I had no idea that the N. Sask would be that big, or that Edmonton had a downtown so majestically perched on top of the valley's edge.
    *** My problem, then and now with the connection between Gateway and Walterdale is not the volume it can handle but it is just plain weird. I would like to see exactly what Speedy Turtle suggests for this connection, provided the view can be maintained. Which gives me an idea for a thread...

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    You can bet that there will be opposition to a plan that destroys urban Edmonton for a freeway! This abominable idea comes up every 40 years. Large road systems cause more traffic problems than they fix and they sterilize enormous tracts of land. To remove businesses along Gateway or 104 St. defeats all that we know about good city building. Cities are cells of communities not one long roadway. If it takes 20 extra minutes to get downtown from the end of the Edmonton world, so be it. What kind of ethic destroys viable communities for someone else's driving convenience? Have you been to a real city? Great cities are about people congregating not about driving around to nowhere. This is a city that has some of the easiest access to and from all points of the city. One of the reasons is that there are a number of routes to get to any one place. A freeway removes options and collects all traffic in one roadway.

    The fight to save Strathcona and the river valley was fought over 30 years ago. It has given us two models for urban design - one, place that people like to meet and be with other people (done without freeway access) and another place where people can go to enjoy a beautiful natural setting without roadway noise or throngs of people.

    Downtown is not about roadway access, It is about a sterilized anti-people place. The streets have to become places that encourage people to come. Building good public streets (in the whole sense of the word) and making private spaces connect with the streets will do more for the viabilty of downtown than 10,000 roadways.

    Gateway Blvd. on the north end works. Leave it alone!

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    My opinion...it doesn't work at all. You are talking about good planning and execution in a City, the major roadway from the AIRPORT DEAD ENDS INTO A CONVULTED MESS CUTTING OFF DOWNTOWN, now that is just plain bad. How is tunneling down and establishing a direct road link into Downtown bad...how can it be bad?

  93. #93

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    Quote Originally Posted by SAL
    You can bet that there will be opposition to a plan that destroys urban Edmonton for a freeway! This abominable idea comes up every 40 years. Large road systems cause more traffic problems than they fix and they sterilize enormous tracts of land. To remove businesses along Gateway or 104 St. defeats all that we know about good city building. Cities are cells of communities not one long roadway. If it takes 20 extra minutes to get downtown from the end of the Edmonton world, so be it. What kind of ethic destroys viable communities for someone else's driving convenience? Have you been to a real city? Great cities are about people congregating not about driving around to nowhere. This is a city that has some of the easiest access to and from all points of the city. One of the reasons is that there are a number of routes to get to any one place. A freeway removes options and collects all traffic in one roadway.

    The fight to save Strathcona and the river valley was fought over 30 years ago. It has given us two models for urban design - one, place that people like to meet and be with other people (done without freeway access) and another place where people can go to enjoy a beautiful natural setting without roadway noise or throngs of people.

    Downtown is not about roadway access, It is about a sterilized anti-people place. The streets have to become places that encourage people to come. Building good public streets (in the whole sense of the word) and making private spaces connect with the streets will do more for the viabilty of downtown than 10,000 roadways.

    Gateway Blvd. on the north end works. Leave it alone!
    whatever...

    And, before you call me a car-driving dinosaur, you might like to know that I WALK to work, FYI.

  94. #94
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    Quote Originally Posted by DanC
    My opinion...it doesn't work at all. You are talking about good planning and execution in a City, the major roadway from the AIRPORT DEAD ENDS INTO A CONVULTED MESS CUTTING OFF DOWNTOWN, now that is just plain bad. How is tunneling down and establishing a direct road link into Downtown bad...how can it be bad?
    It doesn't cut off downtown. There is, even with the loss of the northbound lanes on the Low Level, a good steady flow of traffic into downtown. I always go through downtown when I want to go to the north end. There are short spurts of heavier traffic but mostly it is clear sailing. Downtown is not the only consideration or the only showcase in Edmonton. People expect that there will be many interesting things on the way to the downtown of a city. Rather than creating a major disruption around the river valley and its communties, why not look at using all three bridges with two way traffic? Once you get across the river, there are all kinds of roads into various parts of downtown. Use the CP right of way for another LRT line, anything but more pavement.

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    Quote Originally Posted by murman
    whatever...

    And, before you call me a car-driving dinosaur, you might like to know that I WALK to work, FYI.
    I can't imagine why I would be calling anyone names, dismissing debate or making this personal.

    Just wanting to let you know that there are strong opinons and commitments to other directions. What are we trying to fix? As a person who crosses the river every day, traffic is not a big issue. Finding our way through the river valley roadways, up and down the hills? How about northbound on the High Level? Pretty straight forward for visitors and the rest of us can take the other bridges. We changed everything back to two way on the northside but are left with the remnants of the 1970s' traffic flow theory on the south side. Let's look at different uses of existing roads (or other creative solutions to whatever the problem is deemed to be) before jumping on the big infrastructure bandwagon.

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    Here's a crazy plan...
    Route Gateway Blvd east onto 99st somewhere north of the Whitemud. Cut and cover under the railway then continue northeast to merge with 99th.
    A few businesses will have to get out of the way, and 99 will have to be widened or made one lane southbound. (or both?) Most of the important lodging amenities and such are between 23rd and 51st ave, and having it veer NE after the Whitemud also eliminates the need to build a complex interchange at the relatively cramped 99th overpass.

    Hopefully some of the giant strip mall would move elsewhere (less people driving by = less business) so we could have some room for TODs when the LRT can eventually be run on what will hopefully become the old CP ROW. You could then slim down 103st at Whyte to make the barrier to East Whyte disappear, as a side benefit.

    On the downside, NIMBY's living along 99th will have a fit 75th street-style, and the cost of buying all the land needed could get unreasonable.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SAL
    You can bet that there will be opposition to a plan that destroys urban Edmonton for a freeway! This abominable idea comes up every 40 years. Large road systems cause more traffic problems than they fix and they sterilize enormous tracts of land. To remove businesses along Gateway or 104 St. defeats all that we know about good city building. Cities are cells of communities not one long roadway. If it takes 20 extra minutes to get downtown from the end of the Edmonton world, so be it. What kind of ethic destroys viable communities for someone else's driving convenience? Have you been to a real city? Great cities are about people congregating not about driving around to nowhere. This is a city that has some of the easiest access to and from all points of the city. One of the reasons is that there are a number of routes to get to any one place. A freeway removes options and collects all traffic in one roadway.
    I wouldn't call the crap that surrounds Gateway and CT a viable community. It's not like anybody is suggesting we go Eisenhower and blow through blocks upon of densely populated working neighborhoods. Hub cap stores and muffler shops, not ethnic communities and century old housing stock. It is so much more than for the convenience of suburban commuters, it's about business access and image.

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    Taking a look at Google Earth, I have another radical idea:

    From 86 Ave, rebuild Gateway Blvd so that it curves to the east until it is running north beside the building where the Richie Mill and New Asian Village is (current road at Saskatchewan Drive is Tommy Banks Drive). Most of that is parking lot anyway and the End of Steel Park can remain where it is. I'd say that only a minute amount of parkland is sacrificed. And there's still a bit of the old Tommy Banks Road left so that jazz enthusiasts aren't too honked off. In fact, this will allow for better exposure of the Yardbird Suite.

    Normal signalled intersection at Saskatchewan Drive, replacing the current two signalled intersections at the current Gateway Blvd and Queen Elizabeth Drive. At this point, 2 lanes go north, and the rightmost lane turns onto Saskatchewan Drive. The current hairpin left-turn at Sask Drive and Queen Elizabeth Drive is removed.

    The new Gateway Blvd then cuts straight north across Saskatchewan Drive, slopes down a bit and then curves to left onto the current Queen Elizabeth Drive.

    The current Gateway Blvd between 86 Ave and Saskatchewan Drive is turned into a small local road to serve the apartments along there, the rest of it is turned into parkland or a multi-use trail.



    The above idea eliminates the hairpin pins from Gateway to the Queen Elizabeth except for the sharp left after Saskatchewan Drive, but maybe that can be smoothed out somehow. It also replaces two signalled intersections with one. It addresses the issue of the steep slope at current end of Gateway because it is more shallow at the Tommy Banks intersection. This idea also minimizes the disruption to the residents and the existing parkland. And it brings better exposure to the existing businesses along there (Yardbird Suite) and away from the residences along the current Gateway Blvd.

    Thoughts? Comments?

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    I like the idea as long as we can get this by the condo/apartment owners on the banks. They will either help or kill this immediately, and noise/traffic (of course) will be their gripe. It is not like there isn't the noise now, but who knows what the reaction will be.

    This is a good start for the NB lanes, what about SB? The longer drive of the 2 is SB, and the main issue is from Sask Drive thru to ~ 80th ave.
    Tired of being taken advantage of .

  100. #100

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    Quote Originally Posted by SAL
    Quote Originally Posted by murman
    whatever...

    And, before you call me a car-driving dinosaur, you might like to know that I WALK to work, FYI.
    I can't imagine why I would be calling anyone names, dismissing debate or making this personal.

    Just wanting to let you know that there are strong opinons and commitments to other directions. What are we trying to fix? As a person who crosses the river every day, traffic is not a big issue. Finding our way through the river valley roadways, up and down the hills? How about northbound on the High Level? Pretty straight forward for visitors and the rest of us can take the other bridges. We changed everything back to two way on the northside but are left with the remnants of the 1970s' traffic flow theory on the south side. Let's look at different uses of existing roads (or other creative solutions to whatever the problem is deemed to be) before jumping on the big infrastructure bandwagon.
    By your logic, we should be keeping that "70s traffic flow theory", wherein EXISTING infrastructure was the upper limit (instead of upgrading), and two lane roads were turned into one-way roads. And look at the ab*rtion you have now: something that would make W!nn!p3g proud.

    And Edmontonians lament why they're stuck being a yesterday town...

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