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  • 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!
    Time to grow up.

  • #2
    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.


    Ottawa-Edmonton-Vancouver-Edmonton

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    • #3
      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.

      Comment


      • #4
        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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        • #5
          gateway is a shame...


          Ottawa-Edmonton-Vancouver-Edmonton

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          • #6
            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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            • #7
              /\ can I play too Cold???

              FIX IT NOW!!!!

              Comment


              • #8
                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.

                Comment


                • #9
                  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.
                  My hope is that you can finally get rid of the anger in your heart, and fill it with peace, compassion, understanding, and a desire to uplift rather than suppress.

                  After all, we are all together on this home, this pale blue dot, the "only home we've ever known.”

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    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...


                    Ottawa-Edmonton-Vancouver-Edmonton

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      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?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        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.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          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?
                          My hope is that you can finally get rid of the anger in your heart, and fill it with peace, compassion, understanding, and a desire to uplift rather than suppress.

                          After all, we are all together on this home, this pale blue dot, the "only home we've ever known.”

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            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?
                            [email protected][email protected]: the 5th Horseman of the Apocalypse

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              no kidding...hence why I am curious to see his justification for his thoughts...
                              My hope is that you can finally get rid of the anger in your heart, and fill it with peace, compassion, understanding, and a desire to uplift rather than suppress.

                              After all, we are all together on this home, this pale blue dot, the "only home we've ever known.”

                              Comment

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