An updated Transportation Master Plan (TMP) will help guide the City of Airdrie’s road infrastructure development and priorities for the next 20 years.
Airdrie City council unanimously endorsed the updated TMP at a regular meeting Sept. 21. The plan outlines the long-term future of vehicle traffic, intersection planning, transit, pedestrian and cycling infrastructure and goods movement in the city.
“The completion of this plan contributes to the success of several of council’s strategic priorities, including functional long-term planning, revitalizing downtown, attracting new business and growing existing business,” said E.J. White, the City’s team lead for Engineering Services.
Consulting firm Stantec was retained to complete the TMP, which was last updated in 2014. The newest version is called the 140K Plan, to align with Airdrie’s projected population of 140,000 residents by 2039.
Selby Thannikary, a transportation engineer with Stantec, said stakeholder consultation conducted between 2018 and 2020 indicated the completion of the 40th Avenue interchange remains a top priority in order to mitigate congestion along Airdrie's main east-west connecting roads – Yankee Valley Boulevard and Veterans Boulevard.
“We see this every day as you drive in – the long queues as you try to get onto either Yankee Valley or Veterans,” he said.
“A lot of people felt the [existing] infrastructure was not sufficient to accommodate rush-hour demand, and this again emerged with east-west connections as a popular topic – particularly along Veterans and Yankee Valley.”
Another concern that arose during the consultation stage, according to Thannikary, was the way rapid growth of new development and new communities in Airdrie are contributing to increased local traffic. Other people, meanwhile, said many of the city’s traffic signals are not in sync, worsening traffic during rush hour.
“That kind of led into the reason why we wanted to create the microsimulation tool, where we could start to look, at a finite level, how our signals are working relative to each other and if there are opportunities to improve timing plans so we could get better traffic flow patterns across the city,” Thannikary said.
The TMP also identified the potential for 24 Street to extend south to Centre Street in Calgary. According to Thannikary, 24 Street – which becomes Range Road 12 outside of Airdrie – also has the potential to eventually become a transitway.
Following Thannikary's presentation, council asked questions about how the plan will be used, how well the previous TMP aligned with what has actually happened since 2014 and if first responders were included during the consultation process.
“Overall, without a crystal ball, this, to me, looks feasible and on track,” Deputy Mayor Al Jones said.
Coun. Tina Petrow asked why a projected interchange north of Veterans Boulevard is not expected to be needed until after 2039.
"I'm just wondering if anyone has a backstory on why that's so far out when we have new communities coming to the north, out to the west and industrial areas to the east," she said.
Thannikary replied those areas are not expected to be developed for a few decades, as they are currently in the Community Areas Structure Plan stage – an early stage of development.
"It's not long after 2039 that that network improvement needs to occur," he said. "But we did recognize there might be a little bit of relief for capacity on Veterans. Once you get those other interchanges in place as well, it will help provide that relief valve."