West LRT Line in Calgary approved

It’s official — I’m going to be able to ride the C-Train to work in four years. Sounds like a long time away, but the reality is that this is going to make my life a lot better. Back when I used to live in Sunnyside, I periodically took the C-Train to work — though it was really more like cheating given the short distance.

But I’m almost back to driving to try and make up 30 minutes a day from travelling on buses and waiting for them to show up (basically, a 1.5 hour round-trip commute). This would help since the trains run near-constantly during rush hour, and cut down on the amount of walking I have to do!

So far, based on the information that I can freely find (the only think I can’t seem to find on the net are the conceptual drawings — those apparently come out on the 21st), the West LRT (as it’s being called) will run from the existing 7th Avenue line downtown (I also assume this will effectively become an extension of the existing 202 line) above ground out to roughly 33rd St. West, where it’ll go underground for a portion before reappearing around 41st St., continuing until it’s end at 45th St. (the current location of the Alberta Motor Association’s headquarters in Calgary).

Based on that, they’re going to need to expropriate some land — houses along 17th Ave. between 41st and 42nd streets, and the existing AMA building.

Frankly, I think this is a great time for Calgary to make the investment and start burying the C-Train, especially downtown. The line should also run underground once it crosses into the west, staying under Bow Trail rather than beside it — or worse, in the middle of it (this is going to cause traffic nightmares the likes of which we can only begin to have night sweats over). And leave it underground.

Based on the maps (see the links in the previous couple of paragraphs), this is planned to run down the middle of Bow Trail and 17th Avenue. I shudder to think of the traffic nightmare that is going to ensue as both of those roads are torn up for widening. It’s going to make for a very rough couple of years of commuting, I tell you.

And please, can we put the 45th St. station as one set of platforms instead of staggering it? Those are annoying enough downtown without having to subject poor schmucks (like me) to different loading and unloading areas. (Ironically, the future station at Sirocco will actually be closer for me. Go figure.)

Yes, it costs more. But you gain so much more by not having it visible: less interruptions, less noise, less room being taken up, and less chance of some idiot hitting the train (or being hit by the train because of doing something stupid). You also get better security, because underground stations won’t be open like the the current above-ground stations — you have to buy a ticket in order to get in.

Either way, this is great news, since it means I won’t have to worry about driving ever again downtown. When the light permits, I’ll bike. When the light (and/or weather) sucks, I’ll train. And if we happen to have a good party at Critical Mass (like that never happens), I’ll have an alternative to the taxi.

One major drawback that I can think of: parking in my area is gonna suck. Lots of people are going to want to take that C-Train rather than drive downtown. Which means lots of people parking on roads that — at least for now — have no restrictions on parking. I’m outside the 600m radius from the proposed station, but it’s still only a five-ish minute walk. Ain’t a stretch by any means.

Bring it on, Calgary! This is a step in the right direction. Just please keep stepping!

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