Ring road construction accelerates plans for new Richmond-Sarcee interchange
Plans for a $106-million interchange at Richmond Road and Sarcee Trail are taking on added importance as construction continues along Calgary’s southwest ring road.
Residents of surrounding communities, and the area’s city councillor, want the interchange plan to be funded and built in time to handle traffic when the ring road opens around the end of 2021.
“I’ve lived in the ward all my life and have never felt that intersection has been properly addressed,” said Ward 6 Coun. Jeff Davison.
“What we’re really trying to accomplish here is how do we get out in front of all the increased traffic that’s going to come off the southwest leg of the ring road and down Sarcee.”
Davison says the absence of a west leg of the ring road means that traffic will increase on Richmond Road, 17th Avenue S.W. and Bow Trail, so a free-flowing interchange to replace lights at Richmond and Sarcee is needed.
A proposed design for the interchange was presented in early February to city council’s transportation and transit committee, and Davison says he would like to see it get into the City’s budget cycle during 2018.
“I’m 100 per cent in favour of moving it forward,” he said. “It’s a critical piece of infrastructure.”
He says an interchange at Bow Trail and Sarcee should also be a priority, as surrounding west-Calgary communities see additional development and growing density.
“It would create a sort of inner ring road by utilizing Sarcee,” he said.” Basically, traffic would free flow from way down Glenmore all the way to 16th Avenue N without the need for a set of traffic lights. And Richmond and Bow are really the last two components to what could happen there.”
Glamorgan Community Association president Beryl Ostrom says Richmond and Sarcee has needed an interchange since she moved there more than 30 years, but the upcoming permanent closure of 45th Street S.W. at Glenmore as part of the southwest ring road plan has added to the urgency.
“As Calgarians we need this interchange,” she said. “It has to be done.”
Ostrom says closing 45th Street means that residents of more than a dozen communities between Crowchild Trail and Sarcee Trail will rely even more on Richmond Road and Sarcee Trail as an access point.
She praised the City’s public engagement process, which led to an interchange design that is supported by both area residents and the business community.
“Good planning takes time,” said Ostrom. “But when you do it well, it pays off in spades at the end. Because then you have buy-in from everybody.
“It was a really good consultation process, and we ended up with a really workable interchange (plan) there.”
She adds the challenge now is to get the rest of council on board to fund the interchange, so it can be built by the time the southwest ring road opens.
“Time is running out, they really need to get this thing going,” she said. “It’s critical.”