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New West Calgary Ring Road enhances safety and fosters economic development

On December 19th, 2023, Calgarians witnessed the opening of the much-anticipated West Calgary Ring Road. This final segment, spanning Highway 8 and the Trans-Canada Highway, completes the 101-kilometre freeway that encircles the city, enhancing local connectivity and fostering economic growth across Alberta.

The delivery of the West Calgary Ring Road project marks a significant achievement in freeway planning and engineering in Alberta. The project involved two critical segments: the north segment completed by EllisDon and the south segment constructed by Calgary SafeLink Partners. These segments, delivered through design-build projects, comprise nine kilometres of six and eight-lane freeways, including two system interchanges at the Trans-Canada Highway and Highway 8. Additionally, the project introduced four service interchanges and 24 bridges, alongside extensive retaining walls and numerous sign structures.

Associated Engineering, serving as the prime consultant on the Owner's Engineer team, played a crucial role from the project's inception to completion. Our initial efforts in 2018 involved planning, traffic modeling, site investigations, and establishing the technical requirements which laid the foundation for this complex project. Throughout the construction phase, we provided contract management, monitoring, and technical support to Alberta Transportation and Economic Corridors, confirming adherence to the highest standards, bringing experience from our involvement on other segments of the Ring Road since 2004.

During construction, we overcame many challenges, such as extensive rock blasting and mass earth moving within a densely populated area. The COVID-19 pandemic introduced further complexities, requiring stringent health and safety protocols to keep the project on track, while maintaining worker safety. We addressed environmental challenges, including several severe rainstorm events and dust mitigation, minimizing their impact on the construction progress, and the surrounding communities. Innovative engineering solutions addressed design and site-specific challenges, like traffic staging, water management, multiple bridge structures, and variable geotechnical conditions.

Team Lead, Jim Zagas, tells us, “As a collective project team, we faced the challenges of building significant infrastructure in an urban, residential environment. We had to carefully navigate construction impacts to existing roadways, infrastructure, and adjacent communities. Strong communication and collaboration between all parties were keys to the project's success. We leveraged our collective experience working on previous Ring Road projects.” Leadership, teamwork, knowledge-sharing, and our cumulative expertise were instrumental in overcoming the project's challenges.

The West Calgary Ring Road has enhanced transportation safety and efficiency around Calgary. The completed Ring Road facilitates smooth traffic flow and efficient goods transportation, demonstrating the positive impacts of strategic collaboration to tackle complex engineering challenges. The Ring Road provides a conduit for economic growth and development for the region, reflecting the benefits of our efficient transportation networks to create thriving communities.

Our key personnel on this project include Jim Zagas, David Nagy, Jeff Belziuk, Leo Pinto, Jon Wiens, Karl Liu, Larry Mouland, Joseph Wang, Taylor Caldwell, Michael Walker, Richard Simpson, Mandy Shum, Wendy Liu, Ben Basso, Corinne Arkell, Tara Alexander, Simon Cook, Ashlene Harvey, Dwight Carter, Shane Hemenway, Matt Freeman, and Christel Lope.

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