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Calgary’s Deerfoot Trail Extension wins environmental award

A major highway extension project in Calgary has won the Summit Award for environmental excellence from the Associa...


A major highway extension project in Calgary has won the Summit Award for environmental excellence from the Association of Professional Engineers, Geologists and Geophysicists of Alberta.

The project featured numerous innovative measures developed by AMEC, in partnership with UMA Engineering and Associated Engineering, to protect and enhance wildlife and fisheries habitat within the Bow River valley.

This is the second award for environmental excellence received by the Deerfoot Trail extension project. Previously the project received an environmental excellence award from the Alberta Roadbuilders and Heavy Construction Association.

Work to preserve the world-renowned Bow River trout fishing area and wildlife corridor was performed by AMEC’s Earth & Environmental office in Calgary on behalf of UMA Engineering – the Deerfoot extension’s prime consultant – and project owner Alberta Transportation. AMEC’s Infrastructure division also was involved in the project.

“This high-profile award demonstrates the hard work and expertise of all involved,” said AMEC’s Oliver Laser, an environmental coordinator for the project. “We contributed to the design and construction in a manner that minimized environmental impacts and enhanced and preserved key natural resources in the area.”

Innovative environmental features included:

The first major wildlife underpass to be constructed on a provincial highway. The underpass is 85 metres long and features a skylight to provide natural lighting. Also, 30-metre-wide lateral wildlife corridors were created on both sides of the river under the bridge.

A storm drainage system that captures all highway runoff from the bridges and two kilometres of highway to the south and carries it to a two-stage sedimentation pond. This is the first Alberta highway project to feature such a system.
Realignment of a planned bridge over the Bow River so that a side channel would not be disturbed.
Realignment and habitat enhancement for a 170-metre stretch of Pine Creek, an intermittent stream that flows to the Bow River. Features that will improve the quality of fish habitat in this stretch included boulder fields, offset rock v-weirs, plunge pools, riffle zones and the planting of native tree and shrub species.
Minimization of instream disturbance and fish habitat impacts through innovative bridge design and materials, environmental monitoring and scheduling. All in-stream activities were undertaken during periods when no spawning or hatching of local fish populations occurred.