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Calgary opens a unique interchange, the first in Canada, on Macleod Trail and 162 Avenue

After two years of construction woes, the long-awaited, and unique in Canada, interchange at Macleod Trail and 162 Avenue in south Calgary is set to partially open Monday. 

The innovative $78-million project, called a diverging diamond interchange, is the first of its kind in Canada and will allow for more effective and safer traffic flow. 

About 100,000 people — equivalent to the population of Red Deer — will use the structure everyday, making this a worthwhile and vital investment said Calgary Coun. Peter Demong. 

“An interchange was needed at this location because of the traffic congestion from people moving along Macleod Trail into the adjacent business and service area, and for people getting to their homes in the nearby communities,” said Demong.

He hopes the road project stays true to its potential and becomes one of the safest interchanges in the city, but for Calgarians it might take some time to get used to. 

Unlike traditional interchanges, this one will see traffic switch to the opposite side of the overpass.

Vehicles turning right will merge like usual, but people looking to go across the overpass and turn left will switch to the left side of the bridge — which avoids crossing into oncoming traffic. 

Traffic lights will be at both ends of the interchange directing traffic to the appropriate direction.

Although a change to Calgary’s existing road infrastructure, Mayor Naheed Nenshi said there should be no problem if people drive follow traffic laws and pay attention.

It will essentially create a free flow expressway for a lengthy portion of Macleod, he said. 

But it’s not just about improving traffic, but also communities. 

“Symbolically a bridge, bringing together two different sides, is a great way for us to continue to build community every single day” said Nenshi. “When people are stuck in traffic, stuck commuting, that is time that is stolen away from them. It’s stolen away from their families, their quality of life and their work.”

The city also said pathways and sidewalks are being improved as part of the project design.

The Macleod Trail interchange is the second of four that are opening this summer — totalling $255 million. It is also one of the 21 projects the City of Calgary has planned this year.

Despite its opening on Monday, parts of the roadway will still be under construction until its projected completion later this fall.