Canadian Consulting Engineer


October 1, 2013
By Hatch Mott MacDonald

Juror Comments:  "All aspects of good project management are thoroughly covered by this project. By coping with the varied scope and challenging schedule, the engineers demonstrated their mastership of project management skills and...

Juror Comments:  “All aspects of good project management are thoroughly covered by this project. By coping with the varied scope and challenging schedule, the engineers demonstrated their mastership of project management skills and knowledge.”


In November 2007,

Calgary City Council approved the alignment and funding for the West LRT project, an eight kilometre extension to the C-train light rail system to serve communities in the west of the city.

The $1.4-billion West LRT, the largest infrastructure project in the city’s history, opened exactly on schedule on December 10, 2012. Delivery of an LRT project of this size and complexity in a five year period was unprecedented. It was the first leg of the city’s LRT system to be implemented under a design-build delivery model with an integrated project team consisting of a dedicated City of Calgary group and Hatch Mott MacDonald as owner’s engineer.

SNC-Lavalin Constructors Pacific in joint venture with others (see credits below) was the design-build contractor.

Complexity in an urban context

By their very nature new LRT lines are extremely complex multi-disciplinary undertakings, but in addition the West LRT was a classic “brownfields” project. The infrastructure had to be designed and constructed on a right-of-way within an existing fully developed urban environment. The technical complexity was therefore compounded by the fact that there were many stakeholders with critical interests that required monitoring and management.

The scope of work was extensive and included:

• approximately 8 km of LRT right-of-way, with approximately 3.3 km at or near grade, 1.8 km elevated, and 2.9 km trenched, tunnel and portal;

• LRT systems including traction power, signals and communications;

• six stations, including one elevated, one underground, two trenched, and two at-grade;

• nine traction power substations and two utility buildings;

• two LRT Park ’n’ Ride facilities and two transit bus terminal facilities;

• a four-storey transit orientated development building;

• three pedestrian bridges, a new major freeway interchange and three new road bridges;

• modifications to existing roads, sidewalks, and structures.

• re-routing of existing utilities and installation of new ones;

• environmental remediation of contaminated sites.

Project management strategies

Effective project scheduling, cost estimating and controls ensured the successful completion of the fast-track project. In addition, the following project implementation strategies were used:

• an accelerated nine month period for preliminary design and request-for-proposal package;

• the acquisition and possession of 50 properties under a “get it right the first time” approach;

• the completion of enabling works and sub-projects prior to the primary LRT construction project.

• a comprehensive and reliable communications plan;

• a strong commitment to a “One Team” culture of partnering.

The project also involved extensive engagement with the project’s own stakeholders and a public engagement process that involved 115 public meetings. A comprehensive risk management process was also undertaken.

The project represented a number of “firsts” for the City of Calgary, including the first elevated and underground LRT stations, the first LRT tunnels to include fire-life-safety measures to protect the public in the event of an underground fire; and the first leg of the LRT system to be separately tested, commissioned, and integrated into the existing Operation and Control Centre.

44,000 people off the roads

The West LRT carries approximately 44,000 people per day from the western quadrant to the downtown core of Calgary in an estimated travel time of 13 minutes. Ridership has increased 28% since opening day. The new line is estimated to divert up to 7,300 automobile trips per day, reducing emissions. Another benefit is the refurbishment of the Westbrook mall area with a new building.

Finally, the project provided over 3.7 million hours of work, mainly in the construction and consulting engineering industries. cce

Project name:

Calgary West LRT


City of Calgary

Award-winning firm/owner’s engineer:

Hatch Mott MacDonald (Russel Delmar, P.Eng.; Paul Wilson, P.Eng.;
Nathan Higgins, P.Eng.)


GEC (architecture); Thurber Engineering (geotechnical); Focus (roadways, utilities); Associated Engineering (traffic management); AECOM (environmental, station mechanical-electrical monitoring), Patching Associates (acoustics); Ground 3 (landscape)

Design-build contractor:

Constructors Pacific (SLCP) joint venture with Graham Infrastructure, Cana, Enmax,
A&B Rail. Design: MMM Group; SNCL; EBA/Tetratech; RJC; Gibbs Gage; Wiebe Forest.


Stories continue below

Print this page

Related Stories