Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Karl's PRT network #2 - Bridgeland/East Village

[This post is updated to include my expanded vision for this network]

People who have spoken with me about PRT and seen my proposal for the Foothills Medical Centre / University of Calgary / Brentwood network have also asked me what other areas of Calgary could benefit from a PRT network. While I have had some thoughts about a network for the Calgary International Airport, my next proposal is actually designed for the Bridgleland / Inglewood / Stampede Park / East Village area. Let me explain why.

Bridgeland, an area across the river from the east end of downtown Calgary, is seeing a fast pace of development as it is one of the few prime neighbourhoods left within striking distance of the downtown core. Ever since the old General Hospital was demolished (yeah - I know - don't get me started), 1st Ave NE has seen medium to high density development that shows no signs of stopping. The area is mere blocks from an LRT station, but is physically isolated from the next big thing - the East Village.

The East Village is the currently developing medium to high density project that has the potential to transform the east end of downtown Calgary into one of the most pedestrian-friendly waterfront neighbourhoods since Eau Claire. Just south of the East Village is the north end of the planned Stampede Park expansion project. Stampede Park owners envision the area evolving from something that only sees action during the Calgary Stampede, conventions and hockey games, into a commercial district that draws people from all over the city to eat, work and play. The famous Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville chain has already staked a claim to an anchor spot on the new boulevard being built as part of the project.
If the high speed rail line between Calgary and Edmonton ever gets built, the station is likely to be built just south of Fort Calgary, right along my proposed PRT line from Inglewood to Stampede Park.

Inglewood already has years of charm drawing many people to the trendy restaurants and antique shops and this neighbourhood only suffers physical isolation from the downtown core. With better access, this area would instantly become attractive to new investors and developers.

So my next PRT proposal ties Bridgeland to the Carewest senior's complex and on to an LRT station. The line then heads east to the Calgary Zoo and St. Patrick's Island, which is going to be turned into another huge park with a possible beach, then on to Inglewood. From there the network heads west, stops at the site of any future high speed rail station, then on to the Saddledome, putting you right in the heart of Stampede Park's original core and minutes from another LRT station and a convention centre. The line then heads north to the north end of the expanded Stampede Park (steps from Margaritaville), then further north to the East Village, before crossing the river back to Bridgeland. A new spur continues south to the south end of Stampede Park, then heads up to connect to the LRT station, west into the fast growing beltline area, then north to City Hall before hooking back up at the East Village.

This network is meant to be built now, before any new major development starts - for a change. Trip times are impressive. Bridgeland to the Saddledome is slightly more than a 6 minute ride, to City Hall is 10 minutes. The Zoo is just over 3 minutes from the East Village, as is the East Village from Inglewood, thanks to strategic short-cuts in the network. Average wait times at stations on this network are 14 seconds.

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