Efforts to secure a package of funding agreements at city council, provincial and federal government are about to be launched to enable construction of a strategic road tunnel at Calgary airport before the runway extension scheme gets fully underway.

The city council’s proposed cut and cover tunnel would have three stretches that would pass below either the runway or taxiways. The stretch below the runway would be 180m long and at each taxiway would be 60m long, respectively.

The concept is for the tunnel is to have a box section sized to hold dual, three-lane roads plus a twin-track light rail. However, to help keep down initial costs it is envisaged that only one or two lanes in each direction would be opened initially and the light rail would not be installed until later.

Cost estimates for the tunnel are in the range of US$70M-US$92M, slightly over half of the entire anticipated cost of the new East-West expressway that would pass through the airport.

Local politician Jim Stevenson, the Alderman of Ward 3 in the city, has proposed an addendum to the council’s existing “unfunded” plan for the tunnel project that would see the cost split three ways with the Province of Alberta and the Canadian Government. He plans to bring his proposal to the council in early November.

Should the council approve the plan he will then take it to the provincial government, and subject to success would then seek federal funding.

However, general grading works have already started at the airport in preparation for the main construction activities of the runway extension. While design work for the runway extension awaits environmental assessment there is only limited time for funding approval of the box tunnel initiative.