BOW VALLEY – Alberta Transportation officials presented the preferred plan for the Dead Man's Flats and Trans-Canada Highway future interchange last Thursday (Nov. 28), hosting an open house with more than 40 attendees.
A proactive plan, as the interchange update is development dependent and potentially 20 to 30 years from being built, officials showcased an interim configuration and ultimate configuration consisting of a diamond interchange with a roundabout in Dead Man's Flats.
"Initially it could just be a two-lane bridge and if and when it is ever required then we can accommodate for a future four-lane bridge. It is all development-driven – we can't say when [it would be constructed], there is no timeline, no budget," Jerry Lau, Alberta Transportation Infrastructure Manager said at the open house.
Last June, residents had their first look at the four options Alberta Transportation came up with for the interchange. All options moved the current bridge spanning the highway further east, with two partial cloverleaf interchanges and two diamond interchanges – all eliminating the westbound off-ramp that connected Dead Man's Flats to the Trans-Canada Highway.
Based on the feedback from last year's open house, option four with the diamond interchange and roundabout in the MD was the preferred choice, which was showcased at the recent Banff Gate Mountain Resort at the open house.
Lau said the notable comments from the Thursday night were concerning the potential closing the Dead Man's Flats westbound off-ramp to the Trans-Canada, past the community gas stations.
"It is our policy when an interchange goes in, all other aggregates get closed so this would have to be closed, as per Alberta Transportation policy, but it can be revisited in such time as the interchange gets constructed, which could be 10, 20 or 30 years," Lau said.
"It all depends on the rate of development in the area, especially on the Canmore side."
In the developable area close to the interchange, Three Sisters Mountain Village is currently proposing two neighbourhoods, pursuing two separate Area Structure Plans (ASP) with the Town of Canmore – Three Sisters Village and Smith Creek. Once the subdivision reaches build out, its population base would support the need for a new interchange on the TCH.
The existing interchange was constructed more than half a century ago in the late 1960s. Several studies have been conducted over the years, including a 2003 study that looked to address the safety concerns, improve access to and from the highway and sought to provide for additional capacity in the future.
Safety concerns include the age of the bridge, the fact it is not long enough to accommodate the widening of the Trans-Canada, the exiting ramp has inadequate sightlines from westbound Trans-Canada traffic, the existing ramp does not meet current provincial policy for freeway interchanges, the wildlife underpass will need to be modified to accommodate future lanes on the Trans-Canada, and the creek culverts will need to be lengthened to accommodate future lanes on highway.
The study goals were to develop a cost-effective and safe interchange plan that accommodates all modes of travel, update land use and traffic forecasts based on recent, ongoing and proposed development in the area and update highway design guidelines.
But Lau wanted to remind residents there is no concrete plan.
"There is no plan to upgrade this interchange anytime," he said.
"If there were no developments, there would be no need to do anything for this interchange other than maintenance."
Following the open house, officials said they will review feedback and finalize the function plans for the recommended ultimate and interim interchange concepts and submit the findings to Alberta Transportation.
Anyone who did not get a chance to visit the open house is encouraged to share their feedback with the AECOM project manager by Dec. 15 at firstname.lastname@example.org.