When Rogers Place opens… traffic downtown

By: Jodi Tauber | transformingedmonton.ca

It’s a phrase you’ll hear often over the next few months: plan ahead and give yourself extra time.

Downtown is becoming a destination – not just for events at Rogers Place, but also for the growing number of restaurants, music venues and events to enjoy.

More people exploring Downtown means more traffic. While that’s not anyone’s favorite part of a night out, traffic is a sign that an area is vibrant and doing well. A little extra travel time is a minor trade-off for a Downtown that we can enjoy and be proud of.

The good news is Downtown has a network of roads that regularly handles a lot of traffic.

The highest concentration of jobs in the city are in the core, which means a lot of people travel to and from Downtown every day. In 2014 a City survey found that 483,830 trips are made to/from or through the Downtown on a typical fall weekday between 6:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Colour traffic chart (1)

This is far greater than the traffic that will be generated by an event at Rogers Place. Planners estimate only 6,000 vehicles will travel and park Downtown for an event, as there are many other options like LRT, transit, and walking to an event after work.

It’s also worth noting that the traffic into Rogers Place goes the opposite direction of commuters going home, which means there will be minimal impacts on commuter travel time.

However, smart event-goers will leave themselves some extra time and check their route as road closures will frequently change with the many projects under construction Downtown.

Speaking of construction…how we’re managing road closures

There are over 20 projects in Downtown Edmonton, each with their own schedule that result in short-term or long-term closures of sidewalks, lanes and roads.

To close a route, the construction company first has to apply for a permit. The City of Edmonton reviews each permit and can ask for adjustments before approving it.

Construction image

The goal is to keep routes as open as possible but it’s a delicate balance. To keep projects on time, the City must accommodate needs to load materials and move equipment – if we don’t project timelines and construction costs could be affected. If there’s multiple requests for one area, the City works to offset closures so that projects proceed but traffic can still move.

For large projects, we also meet construction managers regularly so we can look ahead to see what requests will be coming and identify potential issues early.

However just like any major construction project in your home, surprises happen and timelines shift. This translates into sudden and frequent changes to those schedules. Keeping routes accessible to vehicles and pedestrians is like a puzzle with the pieces constantly changing.

While closures are certainly frustrating, they are done to keep people safe. Vehicles, pedestrians and construction don’t mix well and these closures are necessary.

To help you plan your route, the city has a map showing all traffic impacts. Bookmark edmonton.ca/trafficdisruptions. You can also subscribe to our Downtown newsletter that provides monthly traffic updates so you know what to expect.

Managing traffic during events at Rogers Place

As operators of Rogers Place, the Oilers Entertainment Group (OEG) is responsible for planning and executing an event day traffic management plan. They have hired consultants SP+ Gameday, who have done traffic plans for major stadiums and events like the Superbowl, to develop the plan for Rogers Place.

It’s a complex undertaking that balances many traffic streams:

  • Vehicle routes and parking information
  • Drop-off, pick-up and parking for persons with disabilities
  • Options for travelling by Edmonton Transit or LRT
  • General public drop-off & pick-up locations
  • Taxi public drop-off & pick-up locations
  • Vehicle for Hire public drop-off & pick-up locations
  • Charter & Yellow Bus public drop-off & pick-up locations
  • Bicycle parking
  • Pedestrian access

To help people who are not familiar with Downtown, OEG is developing a section called “Plan Your Visit” on RogersPlace.com that will have detailed information on how to get to Rogers Place later this summer.

This will help reduce confusion, which in turn will reduce traffic woes as people spend less time circling Downtown trying to figure things out.