The controversial airport tunnel is opening this weekend (May 25th) with a lot of fanfare.

The project never got off the ground until Mayor Nenshi was elected the first time, and he was able to get enough votes on city council. Many people felt the $300 million dollars would be better spent elsewhere, and the argument was that this project would only benefit a small portion of the population. I have to say that having lived in the northeast community of Martindale several years ago, that I wanted the tunnel to be approved. I saw on a daily basis how the northeast was shortchanged when the C-Train was built along 36h Street NE. Traffic flows at a snails pace anytime of the day because of the numerous train crossings where all the streets intersect with 36th. If you want to turn left off of 36th you wait a long time for the green light to turn and just as it is almost time to turn, a train comes buzzing by and you have to wait again. It is truly a poorly planned route and people in the northeast will feel the effects forever.

Even though the tunnel is not really needed right now, it will be appreciated in the near future with all the growth going on around the airport. When it opens to traffic on Sunday it will lead to 36th Street which at that location is basically a cowpath – at least to the south. The city made a deal with the airport that they would not connect the tunnel with Metis trail until the city has built interchanges on the airport side to accommodate the extra traffic.

The tunnel is 620 meters long with 3 lanes in each direction and has cameras, ventilation, and a backup generator. You will get your only chance ever to walk through the tunnel on Saturday the 24th when the city basically has an open house for the tunnel. You can’t just drive there because there will  be no place to park. You have to go to the Westwinds LRT station and take a shuttle bus which will run between 11am and 2pm.

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