Calgary ring road to finally proceed

CALGARY, Alta. — Truckers may eventually no longer have to trudge their way painstakingly through city traffic in Calgary along the Trans-Canada Hwy.

After decades of frustrating talks that went nowhere, the City of Calgary has inked an agreement-in-principle with the Tsuu T’ina Nation which paves the way for creation of an east-west ring road around the city. Currently, the Trans-Canada Hwy. turns into 16th Avenue in Calgary, which is littered with traffic lights and congestion.

Tsuu T’ina Chif Sanford Big Plume met directly with Alberta Premier, Ralph Klein to get the deal done.

“There seemed to be an unwillingness – that’s why I took the step to meet with the premier,” Big Plume told local media on Friday. “My people need to know how we’re going to proceed – like I’ve said many times, if this doesn’t happen now, it will never happen.”

The proposed ring road will link Hwy. 22X with Glenmore Trail. According to Klein the province will now have control of the controversial lands for as long as the road is used. Big Plume said the contentious land use issue has been discussed since 1947.

“The ring road will be a vital addition to the provincial highway network. Construction of this freeway will improve the traffic in the city and take traffic off already-congested roads like Macleod Trail and Deerfoot Trail,” said Klein.

Klein wouldn’t rule out the idea of building a toll road, however he added "maybe doesn’t mean yes."

Just hours after the announcement, Don Chapman, manager of safety and compliance with Canadian Freightways was asked if truckers would embrace the ring road.

"You’re going to see trucks continue to use 16th Avenue but trucks will definitely use the ring road as long as it’s efficient," Chapman said at the Van Horne Institute’s Reality Check 2004 conference in Calgary. "Trucks will go out of their way to use it as long as you restrict the number of lights."

When pressed about whether the trucking industry would accept a fuel tax hike or other tolls to pay for the ring road, Chapman said the industry would not likely be receptive to the idea.

"We feel we’re paying our fair share," he said.

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