Banff National Park of Canada
Table of Contents
Twinning | Highway
Fencing & Wildlife Crossings
Trans-Canada Highway Twinning Project, Phase IIIB - June 2005
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Traffic volumes are high and continue to rise annually on the Trans-Canada
Highway (TCH) through Canada’s first national park. This situation impacts
human safety, the flow of goods, and safe, unimpeded wildlife movement. Upgrading
to a four-lane highway has been chosen as the best means to improve conditions
for both people and wildlife. Twinning has occurred in stages since 1981.
The most recent 10-km stage is underway east of Lake Louise. By late 2007,
this additional twinning will contribute to safer travel for people and the
smoother flow of goods. Highway fencing will help reduce road kill. Wildlife
crossing structures and other design features will help maintain or restore
vital ecological flows — be they waterways or the movement of fish and
Trees were removed for new lanes
© Parks Canada
Anticipated Project Schedule
Winter 2004 - 2005
Removal of trees for new lanes
September 2005 to August 2006
New Bow River and Canadian Pacific Railway overpass bridge construction near
December 2005 to March 2006
Crushing gravel for road construction / paving
August 2005 to September 2007
Construction of new lanes including some underpass crossing structures, earthwork,
drainage structures, grading and first layer of pavement
October 2005 to June 2007
Primary wildlife crossings, Moraine Creek bridge and pedestrian crossings
September 2006 to July 2007
Rehabilitate existing Bow River and Canadian Pacific Railway overpasses near
June 2007 to October 2007
Landscaping, highway fencing with Texas gates and wildlife chase out gates;
all four lanes in service by November 2007
May 2008 to August 2008
Paving top surface
- Approval of the final project plan and subsequent release of the entire
$50.0 million budget was received in May 2005. This allows 10 km of twinning
with mitigations starting east of Lake Louise.
- Additionally, the project includes construction of 7.5 km highway fencing
extending west of Lake Louise. Over the entire 17.5 km fenced section, eight
wildlife crossings structures will be built: two 60-m wide overpasses; a
35-m wide bridge underpass (Bow River); a 20-m underpass; and four 7-m wide
underpasses. A number of 1-m wide ‘dry’ culverts will also help
small animals to cross the newly twinned 10-km section.
- Trees were cleared over winter to avoid disturbing migratory birds that
seasonally nest along waterways. Some trees were sold to help defray the
project’s costs, while stumps will be chipped and composted to create
soil for recovering disturbed areas along the highway. The Siksika Nation
will also use some trees for tipi poles and associated traditional ceremonies.
- Refinements to the original twinning design include a slight shift in
lane alignment at a couple of curves. This adjustment prevents the need
for high cuts or retaining walls and creates slightly gentler curves to
improve driver safety. It also results in cost savings; improves one animal
crossing; and trims a few hectares off the project’s footprint.
- Design refinements for several bridge and crossing structures were also
made. For example, the new Moraine Creek bridge will be located south of
the existing TCH rather than north of it. This bringssafety benefits, better
accommodates the river’s natural flow, and benefits nesting harlequin
ducks. Also, the new and longer Bow River bridge has been designed to fully
span the river to avoid fishery impacts.
- A pedestrian underpass at the west end of Lake Louise is under consideration
based on feedback from townsite residents and community council.
- Through funding from Parks Canada and partnerships with several North
American Foundations and Montana’s Western Transportation Institute,
DNA research is being planned at the existing crossing structures. Animal
hairs snagged with sticky string and barbed wire provide the DNA. DNA profiling
will help identify which individual animals within a population are contributing
to gene flow, and ensure that population connectivity is maintained or restored
by the crossing mitigations.
- When the TCH was built in the mid-1950s, many streams were rerouted to
culverts under the highway. Current twinning will allow these streams to
be restored to their original channels to regain their health and productivity.
Their restored insect communities will feed fish, and birds such as dippers
and harlequins in the Bow River.
Highway Pull-offs and Access
- Throughout 2005, Bow River canoe and kayak access will remain open to
paddlers at the pull-off just east of Lake Louise. After twinning, access
to the put-in will remain from both lanes.
- Likewise, access to the Lake Louise Overflow Campground will be unaffected
this year. After twinning, access remains from both lanes. The Mt. Temple
viewpoint will be closed this year. It will reopen in 2007 with access from
the westbound lane.
Research and Monitoring
Yes, the existing wildlife crossing structures are working! Through the long-term
data collected, animals continue to teach us how to build better fencing and
crossing structures to meet their different lifestyle needs. This learning
has gone into the current twinning project. Worldwide, other transportation
engineers are also putting this learning on the ground.
Monitoring of wildlife crossings is vital to ensure they are improving the
permeability of roads to animal movements, connecting habitats, and ultimately
sustaining healthy populations over time. Species such as grizzly and black
bears, cougars, elk, moose, and wolves are using the wildlife crossings with
over 63,000 passages documented. New DNA research will shed further light
on the effectiveness of the current wildlife crossings.
Unexpectedly, we’ve discovered that TCH monitoring serves as a unique,
linear transect for monitoring wildlife populations in the park. It continues
to reveal general population numbers and trends for many species – information
needed to evaluate how well we’re managing for ecological integrity.
With each passing year, the value of this data for conservation grows. For
more information: Highway
Mitigation Research in the Mountain Parks.
Overview of Twinning Project
Trans-Canada Highway Project Phase IIIB Crossing
© Parks Canada
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