Calgary Herald

Transitway plan nears reality

17th Avenue S.E. businesses excited


Long-awaited plans to create a transit, pedestrian­and bicycle-friendly corridor serving one of the city’s most culturally diverse shopping strips seem so close to becoming reality, businesses can almost taste it.

All the restaurant­s, specialty grocery marts, and other Internatio­nal Avenue businesses are counting on the future 17th Avenue S.E. transitway to revitalize the corridor, promoting a more sustainabl­e form of urban developmen­t.

The transporta­tion project aims to improve the corridor between Deerfoot Trail and 68th Street S.E.

Plans include buses and bus stations, bike lanes, wider sidewalks and boulevards to improve access and encourage pedestrian­s to visit.

“We’re finally at a real pinnacle in our work and this is a very key piece. We’re 100 per cent behind it and we’ve been pushing for it. We couldn’t be more happy,” said Alison Karim-mcswiney of the Internatio­nal Avenue business associatio­n.

“This community is so behind this project and we’re so excited for what it can do for this whole area and the city as a whole. We have been waiting for this for well over 20-plus years, and it’s finally coming to fruition.”

The project is contingent on funding availabili­ty.

The estimated price tag for all phases is $300 million.

But much of the money, earmarked from the province’s Greentrip funding, won’t be known until at least December, when the city reviews the Transporta­tion Infrastruc­ture Investment Plan.

The city’s transit and transporta­tion committee will discuss the plan at a meeting Wednesday. The improvemen­ts are said to have the potential to revitalize the communitie­s, improve public transit service and boost economic developmen­t.

“It should be in the next five years you’re going to start seeing some major changes,” said Karim-mcswiney. “We know this is what we need to do to make the revitaliza­tion happen. It’s much needed and we’re very pleased with the city moving forward on this.”

If approved, the first phase would unfold in Forest Lawn, between 26th Street S.E. and 36th Street S.E., followed by 36th to Hubalta Road. The cost is estimated to be $94 million for that first phase alone.

The entire project extends from Inglewood-ramsay past Stoney Trail.

The city is in discussion­s with the province to make use of the province’s Greentrip program and in transporta­tion’s 2012-14 business plan and budget. The multi-phase infrastruc­ture project has the potential to trigger the revitaliza­tion of communitie­s around 17th Avenue S.E.

Specifical­ly, plans call for improved transit reliabilit­y and travel time, and a significan­t upgrade in a pedestrian-cycling network to help reduce car dependency for area residents. Other phases include segments at Bow River-deerfoot, Canadian Pacific-blackfoot and parkway, which stretches from Hubalta Road through Stoney Trail into future areas.

Greentrip, a transit program announced by the province in 2008, was designed to dedicate $960 million for Calgary transit projects, with the city putting up $1 for every $2 from the province.

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