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5th Avenue Connector Contra-flow Facility: From Concept to Completion


Lane reversals have been implemented in the City of Calgary on several approaches to the downtown core in order to maximize peak period capacity without costly and intrusive expansion of inner city roadway infrastructure. This paper describes the development and implementation of the most recent lane reversal project, the 5th Avenue Connector, a contra-flow facility operating in the morning peak period on one of the busiest approaches to downtown Calgary. Heavy traffic volumes merge from Crowchild Trail (a north-south expressway) onto Bow Trail (an east-west expressway) on the west side of downtown Calgary. The inbound and outbound carriageways of Bow Trail are laterally separated by hundreds of metres throughout the approach to downtown. As a result, in order to create a contra-flow facility on Bow Trail, a unique approach was required. The 5th Avenue Connector was implemented as a trial in September 2005. Today, on weekdays between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m, traffic destined for 5th Avenue has an additional route available via a contra-flow lane on Bow Trail. Motorists are able to avoid three traffic signals on their former route and bypass congestion due to heavy volume and weaving The costs of the project were minimized during the trial period by relying on manual setup and takedown of traffic control devices. A permanent contra-flow facility is being developed in early 2006 that will minimize or eliminate the need for manual operation of the facility, while maintaining the same capacity throughout the lane reversal period. Remarkably, the period between concept/analysis and implementation took only four months. This process, including the analysis, design, stakeholder engagement, construction, and field crew training, is described in this paper. The trial has been deemed a success on several fronts: • Low cost and minimal disruption to other traffic, adjacent businesses, and non-road users; • User benefits – the project was very well received by commuters who save time by using the facility. Approximately 750 vehicles use the facility in the peak hour; • Spillover benefits – the project resulted in 2.5-4.5 minute decreases in travel time on Bow Trail adjacent to the 5th Avenue Connector. Standing queues that formerly spilled over onto Crowchild Trail were reduced. • Rapid implementation – from concept to trial in four months. The 5th Avenue Morning Connector is an excellent example of how existing infrastructure can be optimised to produce tangible benefits at low cost and with timely implementation.

Conference Paper Details

Session title:
Logan, M
McLeod, T
Jordan, C