Friday, July 31, 2009

Peace Bridge: Do we need another pedestrian bridge?

Like many Calgarians, I've been wondering about whether we really need another pedestrian bridge, particularly in the Eau Claire area. A quick look at The City's bike and pathway map shows that there are already several pedestrian bridges over the Bow River and one would assume that those existing bridges would be able to handle the existing pedestrian and bike traffic.

According to Don Mulligan, director of Transportation Planning, pathway traffic into and out of the downtown core continues to grow and Peace Bridge is needed to handle this increased pedestrian and bicycle traffic, particularly in the Eau Claire area.

The location of the bridge, at approximately 7 St S.W., was selected because the area sees the most pedestrian and bike traffic of any portion of the 660 km of paved pathways in the city. According to The City's Transportation Department, more than 13,000 pedestrians and cyclists cross the Bow River daily using the Louise Bridge, the LRT bridge near 10 Street S.W. and the Prince's Island bridge.

Once Peace Bridge is completed, it's expected to transport more than 5,000 people a day, or 1.3 million people per year. While that's a relatively impressive number, Mulligan says that the Peace Bridge will truly be of asset to Calgarians as the downtown core grows - another 60,000 jobs are anticipated in the downtown core by 2025. That's on top of the 120,000 Calgarians that presently work downtown and the 30,000 that live there.

Mulligan adds that an additional 30,000 people are expected to be living in the core by 2025 with a number of high density residential projects scheduled to be built in the Eau Claire, East Village, Hillhurst-Sunnyside and The Bridges communities. These high density projects are expected to have a large impact on the number of citizens entering the downtown core using the pathway system.

Check out my interview with Don Mulligan, The City's director of Transportation Planning below.

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