Commuters say highway speed change between Calgary and Chestermere a headache

Alberta Transportation recently lowered speeds on the Trans-Canada, at Rocky View County’s request

Driving the Trans-Canada Highway between Calgary and Chestermere used to be a straight shot at 110 kilometres per hour.

But over the years, development and design changes have shifted the posted speed so much that drivers are having to slow down and speed up every few klicks to contend with posted limits between 70 and 110 km/h. 

The latest change is just after the Stoney Trail interchange. Rocky View County had asked Alberta Transportation to address safety concerns on the short stretch of highway.

Some drivers feel this piecemeal approach to road safety is distracting, adds to commute times and could cause more harm than good. 

“I hadn’t actually driven through it yet, but the next day I did, and I was like, ‘this is ridiculous, like, absolutely ridiculous,'” said Conrich resident Shelley Innes. “There’s no need for this reduction in speed for that short stretch of road. It makes no sense. It makes it harder to get on and off that highway.”

What was 110 km/h is now down to 80 — a limit that lasts about three kilometres before it returns to 110.

That speed shift has cost Innes and others extra commuting time. She said it takes her 10 to 20 minutes to merge onto the Trans-Canada now because of traffic backups.

Rocky View County’s executive director of operations said the request came from residents in Cambridge Estates. The community accesses Highway 1 from a rural range road that crosses the highway.

“Over the past years, we have seen quite a few accidents at that intersection, some with great severity, some of minor instances,” Byron Riemann said.

After a council discussion, Rocky View asked the province last December to reduce the speed limit, and Alberta Transportation obliged. New signs were only recently posted. 

Chestermere resident advocates for change 

Drivers noticed the change almost immediately, and it became a topic of discussion on local Facebook groups. But Chestermere resident Tom Dekker hopes those keystrokes can turn into action.

He sees the ever-changing speed limits on the Trans-Canada as a policy failure. 

“We know what the gold standard is for highways: that’s grade-separated interchanges,” Dekker said. “Are we going to commit to the work that needs to be done to make the stretch as safe as possible? Or are we going to continue to put in these interim solutions? And if we are going to do these interim solutions, let’s make sure we look at the whole network.” 

Dekker hopes commuters reach out to their elected officials to raise concerns about the Highway 1 speed changes.

Dekker said he will contact Transportation Minister Prasad Panda.