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Major road work planned in Banff National Park this summer

Anyone visiting the Lake Louise area in Banff National Park this summer may have to deal with traffic disruptions as major road work gets underway.

Fran├žois Masse, the Parks Canada field unit superintendent responsible for Lake Louise, said the project was inevitable.

“Anybody who’s driven [along] Lake Louise Drive in the recent past knows that it’s well overdue for a paving project. So we have to do that,” he said.

“There’s no option, but it’s going to pay off for the next decade, ideally even more. We just have to bite the bullet.”

According to the Parks Canada website, the roadway is used by about one million vehicles a year. In fact, traffic on the roadway has increased by around 70 per cent over the past decade.

The road provides access to two of the most popular tourist attractions in the park: Lake Louise and Moraine Lake.

The project is being touted on the website as “a major opportunity to improve ecological integrity and visitor experience” in the areas surrounding Lake Louise.

As part of the construction project, workers will focus on road repairs, asphalt resurfacing, better signage and more lights. As well, work might get underway on a roundabout to replace the existing four-way stop at the intersection of Lake Louise Drive, Sentinel Road and Fairview Drive.

Crews will focus on improving public safety by controlling traffic congestion between St. Piran, Chateau Lake Louise and Upper Lake Louise parking.

A bald man with glasses is seen wearing a green T-shirt and smiling at the camera.
Fran├žois Masse, who is the Lake Louise field unit superintendent, said the project is unavoidable but will ‘pay off’ in the future. (Helen Pike/CBC)

Masse said they hope the project won’t disrupt the park experience too much for visitors.

“Last summer, we paved Whitehorn Drive, which is just on the other side of the valley and almost just as busy. And we were able to get very minimal traffic disruption,” he said.

“People barely noticed because we were able to work with the contractor, get as much work done overnight as possible, get work done in the times during the day where it’s less busy.”

A map that shows a part of Banff in Alberta, including the popular Lake Louise Drive.
Workers will focus on improving Lake Louise Drive, a road that provides access to two very popular tourist attractions: Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. (Google Maps)

Masse added the team will work with a contractor to come up with a robust  traffic management plan “as much as possible.”

“That being said, there always will be times where they [the worker] need to move during the day or because of temperature, they may need to do some paving work during the day. So that’s why I want to be extra cautious, communicate with the public, be out there making sure that people are aware of what to expect.”

Prioritizing public transit, ecological integrity

Masse’s sentiment was echoed by Leslie Bruce, CEO of Banff & Lake Louise Tourism, who said the team expects to get lots of questions from the public.

“It’s really important that we get clear and concise communication out to people before they get here and really help people plan their trips,” she said.

“The great part is that Parks Canada is investing in a better way to access Lake Louise. The very challenging part is that this summer is going to be very difficult to get there. And so planning ahead, using our resources, using mass transit, is going to be the way to visit Lake Louise.”

A close-up shot of a smiling woman wearing a white sweater and long earrings.
Leslie Bruce, CEO of Banff & Lake Louise Tourism, believes it’s crucial to deliver the right information to the public before they make their way to the area. (Helen Pike/CBC)

In terms of preserving ecological integrity, it’s crucial to promote the local public transit system and encourage people to opt for options like shuttle buses and carpooling, said Bruce.

“Without the integrity of this park, we really don’t have an asset to market or an asset to experience,” she said.

“And so we’re very, very committed not only as Banff Lake Louise Tourism but as an industry to be part of protection and to be part of preserving this place. That is why we’re advocates for taking mass transit.”

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