New ideas and concerns delay next steps in Calgary’s Memorial Drive expansion – Calgary
Calgarians hoping to have a say in the next steps of exploring an extension of Memorial Drive will have to wait until next year.
According to the City of Calgary, the second phase of the Memorial Drive East Functional Planning Study was scheduled for this fall, but has now been pushed back to early 2023.
“Many residents are concerned about increased traffic, noise and dust created by construction and ultimately their quality of life,” Ward 10 Coun said. André Chabot told Global News.
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The proposed project would extend Memorial Drive from the existing communities of Abbeydale and Applewood Park to the eastern city limits at 116 Street East with the aim of accommodating new communities being developed on the eastern outskirts of the city.
The extension would also include a new CN railroad crossing and an east-west overpass on Stoney Trail, with no on or off ramps from Stoney Trail.
According to city officials, the first round of public engagements last summer resulted in some design features that « require further evaluation » so that the project team can « understand the benefits and trade-offs of every concept ».
« Because there were so many new ideas that came forward and new concerns, the administration needs more time to pull some of those ideas together into concept-like designs, » Chabot said.
The current plan is to present these design concepts to the public in early 2023.
One of the concerns also identified during the first round of public engagement was access from Abbeydale and Applewood Park to the Rotary Mattamy Greenway, which is across the railway line. There is currently a fence separating the communities from the park, but a hole dug in this fence is regularly used as a passage.
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Chabot said the issue is not new and work is underway to provide multimodal access across CN Rail tracks.
However, some members of the community feel that the expansion of Memorial Drive would be beneficial, including the Eastside City Church which lines the future causeway.
“If it passes here and passes (Stoney Trail), it will take a lot of the pressure off 17th Avenue (South) and 16th Avenue (North) during rush hour,” Frank Moody, pastor of the church, told GlobalNews.
The extension of the east-west link road is part of the development of the territory of the new commune of Belvédère, which was approved by the previous municipal council.
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Chabot said the area study will also explore whether a passage to Memorial Drive is necessary to accommodate future growth nearby.
“That’s what we’re trying to get across through all of this is to figure out what the mobility needs are…and if they can be met through another mechanism,” Chabot said. “Either via 17th Avenue or by public transportation along 17th Avenue, to be able to move people in and out of the area.”
Design concepts are also expected to be presented to City Council in 2023, but the causeway extension project does not yet have funding allocated.
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For Moody, increased traffic in the area from an extended memorial walk could also prove beneficial for the church.
« How many people drive to the end of (Memorial Drive)? Not many. Just the people who live here, » Moody told Global News.
According to city officials, local community associations and other organizations will be notified of any open houses or opportunities for feedback once the schedule for the second phase of the engagement process is confirmed.
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