Expand Road Capacity
The existing road system is already beyond capacity. Using traffic signal overrides helps move congestion from the bridge, but that's not solving the issue - only prioritizing one vehicle movement over another. It moves congestion to other roads, causing unreasonable wait times for pedestrians.
To increase capacity for personal vehicles, new roads and bridges would need to be built and existing roads widened. Several concepts using these ideas were investigated, and a road bypass was looked at in greater detail because it was the only one that could resolve congestion, but that's assuming the number of cars on the road remains the same, and doesn't increase. You can review the concept below. Because building new roads and bridges would have a significant negative impact on the environment, and is against the goals of the Banff Community Plan, this concept is not recommended for further study.
More roads and bridges:
- Is costly infrastructure and increases operation costs
- Would be environmentally detrimental to the national park
- Negatively impacts pedestrian experience downtown, and on the bridge
- Is not permitted outside the townsite boundaries
Bridge at Wolf Street, to cave/mountain Ave
First discussed in 1984 as a bypass, but since then, new development would require pushing the roadway more into the side of Sulphur Mountain.
- Avoids downtown and Bow River Bridge – reduces congestion
- Grade issues on Sulphur Mountain
- Encroaches into national park and on environmentally sensitive wetlands
- Capital costs of $130 million est.
- Operating costs of $6.5 million annually
This concepts is not recommended for further study.
What Else Was Considered
Many different concepts dealing with new roads and bridges were investigated and modelled, both in this study and through the Transportation Master Plan. These concepts include:
- Adding a fourth lane to the bridge by removing a sidewalk
- Reversing lanes on the Bow River bridge
- Adding a roundabout at Spray Ave/Banff Ave
- Eliminating left-hand turns on Banff Ave
- Eliminating traffic lights on Banff Ave
- Converting Banff Ave into a pedestrian zone
- Creating a one-way system around Banff Ave/Lynx Street/Bear Street
- Coordinating traffic signals on Banff Ave so they all turn green at the same time
- Building a bridge connecting Buffalo Street to Sundance Road
After reviewing these concepts, it was found they would either push the congestion problem down the road a block, would fail to have a significant positive effect, or would actually worsen the flow of traffic. Learn more from the Traffic Management Frequently Asked Questions. The only road expansion option that could work is the road bypass described above, but it comes with significant disadvantages.