4th Street SE Underpass Now Open!

Starting today, you can officially get anywhere in town from East Village. Quickly, safely, and yes, in amazing style.

For a very long time, East Village has been literally on the wrong side of the tracks – those daunting ribbons of steel at 9th Avenue, to be exact. Today, the four-lane, pedestrian and bike-friendly 4th Street Underpass dips beneath those tracks, opening East Village up to a world of possibility. For instance: the underpass connects Olympic Way SE at 11th Avenue SE near Stampede Park to 4th Street SE at 9th Avenue SE. Which means that East Village and downtown Calgary are now connected to the southern Beltline communities and beyond. And the distance to a Flames game just got exponentially shorter. Not to mention, of course, the fact that it makes East Village that much more attractive as a place to live and set up a business.

And while the underpass will accommodate some 22,000 vehicle trips every day once East Village is built out, it will also make cyclists and pedestrians feel very much at home.

Apart from wide, pedestrian-friendly sidewalks and dedicated bicycle lanes, the underpass features state-of-the-art LED lighting in its walls and handrails to make the space lighter and more inviting. And the kinetic artwork in its canopy has to be seen to be appreciated: hundreds of aluminium fins are set within a galvanized metal armature, fastened to pivots that allow each fin to move with the motion of the wind or a passing train and allow light to penetrate the space below.

“This is a great piece of infrastructure,” said Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi. “This will dramatically improve connectivity in Calgary – connectivity not just between north and south, but between people, neighbourhoods and communities. It’s an important step towards creating a more vibrant downtown core.”

Preparation for the 4th Street SE Underpass began in 2008 with the relocation and lowering of significant underground utility works, the relocation of approximately 3,500 meters of rail storage tracks from downtown to the Highfield Industrial area, the lowering 4th Street SE and 9th Avenue SE, and the removal of roughly 60,000 tonnes of dirt. Take a glimpse into the creation of the underpass:

The underpass was also realigned to save the historic King Eddy Hotel and make the dream of the National Music Centre possible. In all, the underpass took more than three years of planning and construction, an estimated 340,000 direct man hours and $70 million. It’s not easy getting to the right side of the tracks, but we’re there. Come see for yourself.