A $20-million road project that is expected to affect traffic like never before in Red Deer officially gets underway on Saturday.
The two-year Taylor Drive improvement project — between 43rd Street and Taylor Drive Bridge — is designed to address traffic flow, make the area more pedestrian-friendly and improve the roadways for connections between Railyards, Riverlands and the Historic Downtown.
The major roadwork will happen this summer and the finishing touches will wrap up the project in 2015.
Starting at 8 a.m. on Saturday, motorists will no longer be able to access the downtown from Taylor Drive via 49th Street and will be detoured to 45th Street and 43rd Street. Several significant road closures along Taylor Drive will also be in effect.
Tara Shand, communications team lead, said the city recognizes Taylor Drive is a major roadway for commuting across the city and closing sections of it will have a major impact on motorists. She said commuters are encouraged to take the temporary bypass road or use alternative routes.
The closures are expected to last until September, depending on weather.
Traffic on Taylor Drive will be rerouted to a temporary bypass road accessed by either 45th Street or 43rd Street. The bypass road is along the east side of Taylor Drive from Kerry Wood Drive to 45th Street.
The busy Taylor Drive and 54th Avenue intersection, near the Real Canadian Superstore, will be closed.
One lane of traffic will be open from the downtown onto Taylor Drive Bridge to allow motorists to continue driving north.
Charity Dyke, Riverlands project manager, said this work is a critical piece in improving the access for all types of movement, whether it be on foot or in a car into Riverlands. As part of the project, a new pedestrian crossing from Alexander Way (48th Street) will extend into Riverlands. This will be completed in 2015.
In June, the old civic buildings in Riverlands will be demolished as part of the redevelopment of the area.
Dyke said once the berm and buildings come down, people will get a clearer look at the importance of the connection to the river.
The closures are needed so crews can install necessary underground services, do road paving and begin realigning the existing Taylor Drive and Ross Street intersection into a simpler three-legged intersection. Next year’s phase will include improving the sidewalks, landscaping and any finishing touches.
The new system will mean improved connections for motorists coming to and from the Riverlands, Railyards and historic downtown districts.
Additional pedestrian connections allowing for movement on both sides of the road and access to Riverlands are part of the project. Within the current Taylor Drive/Ross Street intersection, pedestrians must backtrack to the Taylor Drive bridge and there is limited connection to Riverlands.
Traffic changes/closures until September:
l Northbound traffic will be detoured north of 45th Street onto the existing southbound Taylor Drive lanes and then onto the bypass road. The newly constructed temporary road from 45th Street to the Taylor bridge will have one lane for north and southbound traffic.
l Southbound traffic will be detoured east of the bridge onto the bypass road.
l One lane of westbound traffic will be maintained on Ross Street to access Taylor Drive northbound across the bridge.
l Access to 49th Street will be closed from Taylor Drive. Motorists are encouraged to use the 45th Street or 43rd Street to access downtown
l At the Ross Street/52nd Avenue intersection, traffic will be detoured onto 52nd Street to access Taylor Drive southbound.
l 50th Street will be reduced to one lane north/southbound with no access to Taylor Drive
l 48th Street will have no access to Taylor Drive
l 54th Avenue will be closed at Taylor Drive. Motorists are asked to use 52nd Avenue.
For more information, you can sign up for the Taylor Drive newsletter and find alternative routes at www.reddeer.ca/constructionseason or call 403-406-8796 for the latest information.