Calgary Airport Trail Tunnel Opens To Traffic

Posted by: Kenny Chan onMay 25th, 2014


Yesterday, the Calgary Airport Trail Tunnel was officially opened to the public with a grand opening event including a show and shine featuring several local car clubs, food trucks and live entertainment. Thousands of people made their way to the tunnel via a series of shuttle buses to walk through the tunnel for the first and only time as there are no sidewalks along the tunnel. This morning marks the official opening of the tunnel to traffic with three lanes in each direction connecting 36 street NE to Barlow Trail and the airport terminals.

Unfortunately, until Airport Trail is extended to Metis Trail and Stoney Trail (Provincial Ring Road) the tunnel is not really that useful. It literally is a tunnel to nowhere at the moment. The tunnel was built with an official budget of just under $295 Million, but if you factor in all the required interchanges for the full complete link to Metis Trail and Stoney Trail the price tag jumps significantly. Still, the project is required and while the optics are terrible, building it later when it is actually needed will cost much more. The annual bill for operating the airport tunnel will be approximately $1M with half of that paying for the premiums on the $1B insurance policy the City of Calgary was forced to take out.


Room for LRT tracks has been built into the tunnel but actual track construction will not begin until an LRT extension to the airport is built. There are three lanes in each direction now and when the tunnel is reconfigured with the LRT tracks, the number of lanes will be unaffected as the shoulders on each side of the tunnel will be removed and lanes possibly narrowed to accommodate the new tracks. So, what are you waiting for? Go for a rip through the tunnel and don’t forget to roll down your windows! ;)

Some Calgary Airport Tunnel Facts:

– The tunnel is 620 metres long and 36 metres wide
– Vehicle clearance in the tunnel is 5.3 metres.
– During tunnel construction over 600,000 cubic metres of earth and rock was excavated.
– Over 2.5 kilometres of water and storm water utilities have been installed along with approximately 45 kilometres of electrical conduit.
– 12,000 tonnes of reinforcing steel was installed, equivalent to about thirty 747 airplanes.
– Concrete work on the structure itself began with the installation of footings followed by forming and casting of the tunnel walls and roof. A total of 50 concrete sections were poured. Each tunnel section required 850 cubic metres of concrete which was delivered by about 80 trucks over a 12-hour period.
– The first concrete pour for the tunnel walls and roof took place on February 24, 2012, and the last pour was completed on October 30, 2012.
– A total of 58,000 cubic metres of concrete was poured during the construction of the tunnel.
– Thirty-two 100-horsepower exhaust jet fans, weighing 2,000 pounds each, and 1,380 lighting fixtures were installed onto the ceiling of the tunnel.
– Various traffic control devices, lane control and life safety systems have been installed in the tunnel.

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