Tourist of the City – LRT – Sunalta Station

South entrance to Sunalta Station

South entrance to Sunalta Station

Elevated LRT- Sunalta Station

Elevated LRT- Sunalta Station

Mezzanine level exit to overpasses- Sunalta

Mezzanine level exit to overpasses

Well, it took a while, but Calgary finally has an elevated station, and if you’re only going to have only one of something, you might as well do it up right.

The construction of this station intrigued me, way up in the sky like that, I just couldn’t stand the suspense of seeing the finished project. It seemed to take forever for the huge concrete supports to go in and more waiting as the elevated track was installed one section at a time. The station itself looked open and exposed for the longest time, but it all came together in the end.

Copper and Glass protect the platform of Sunalta Station.

Copper and Glass protect the platform

The station has a lot of windows for those who enjoy the view. I’m not afraid of heights, not even a little bit, but I could see some people having trouble with it here. Then again, everything is enclosed and you can always think about the large number of stairs. Halfway down is the mezzanine level and the overpass crossing 9th Avenue which gives access to the Greyhound Bus Station.  A little public plaza on the south side of the station is still under construction, waiting for spring weather to get completed. The best way to show off the Sunalta Station is with pictures. The infographic also contains more information than I include in the Blog, and if all else fails, this station is worth visiting in person.

Looking up from underneath at Sunalta Station

Looking up from underneath

I took more photos of this station than any other, just because I thought it was so darn stylish and interesting. I’m sure I could take a whole lot more if I came back after dark. Lighting something up adds a whole new dimension to the urban landscape. (Las Vegas comes to mind).

Looking west from Sunalta Station

Looking west from Sunalta Station

Sunalta is the last of the six new stations constructed as part of the west leg of the LRT.  I really enjoyed exploring all of them and I think will continue on down the line. I’ve been all the way to Saddletowne at the far end of the NE line and I’m sure some of the stations between here and there deserve a closer look.

Sunalta Platform

Sunalta Platform

Without getting too political about it, I want to say that long term planning for extending and expanding the LRT lines should be a priority.  I think that Calgary has not put as much priority on public transit as it should.  I haven’t visited enough large Canadian cities to make proper comparisons to the C-Train, but a little bit of research shows me that other cities in Canada have much larger transit systems and better long term planning.

Copper and Light, themes of the west LRT

Copper and Light, themes of the west LRT

One place I have been is the west coast. Metro Vancouver has the Skytrain as part of their Translink system. Images of Skytrain.  The Skytrain has long stretches of elevated rail, and I really enjoyed the view as it travelled unimpeded between elevated stations, and Translink has development plans looking as far ahead as 2040.

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Tourist of the City- LRT- Shaganappi Point

Shaganappi Point station, looking west

Shaganappi Point station, looking west

Half way between Calgary’s first underground LRT station and its first elevated station is a quiet little station named Shaganappi Point.  It doesn’t look like much and I was prepared to skip it all together, but I didn’t, I’m dedicated to doing this right.This station is nestled in the middle of Bow Trail, between the westbound and eastbound lanes.  To the north is the Shaganappi Golf course and to the south is an older residential community, inner city but not yet super high density.

The transit infographic for this station talks up the nearby amenities, but those are a bit suspect.  Even in the summer I wonder if any golf-club wielding transit lovers will board the

Copper and Glass detailing of the station

Copper and Glass detailing of the station

C-Train to get to the golf course and if a cyclist has made it this far on their bicycle, I doubt they would suddenly switch to transit instead of just continuing on their way downtown. Shaganappi Station incorporates the same basic design elements I saw further west, with glass and copper accents on an elliptical roof designed to shed snow and rain. I like the light, airy quality of these ground level stations, and the low profile of this one fits nicely between the lanes of traffic.The prospect of future development is likely the biggest reason for having this unassuming little station. Some day condos, infills and apartments will take over the single family homes in the surrounding area.

Shaganappi station looking east towards downtown.

Shaganappi station looking east towards downtown.

There is no nearby parking available for this ‘walk on’ station and less connections to bus routes than at Westbrook Station, but here it is, the quiet little station called Shaganappi Point.

Tourist of the City- LRT- Westbrook Station

Westbrook Station- North Entrance

Westbrook Station- North Entrance

It has taken the construction of the west leg of the C-Train, for Calgary to get it’s first bona-fide underground LRT station. There are sections of track that duck underground for a stretch on the other lines, and ‘trenched’ stations, like the one at 69th St., but unlike other cities with their Metros and Tubes and free-flowing downtown traffic, Calgary seems to have resisted the notion of burying it’s rapid transit. Maybe Calgarians need to see where all their money went.

Needless to say, I’ve been looking forward to visiting this station simply for the novelty. For the longest time, it was a huge hole obstructing my access to Westbrook Mall, and a school was torn down to accommodate the huge pile of dirt beside the hole.  (Ernest Manning High School was rebuilt at the west end of the line).

Westbrook- North entrance interior

Westbrook- North entrance interior

The Mall featured a ‘display’ of sorts, with images and artist’s renderings of what the new stations would look like. I might have glanced at those displays a few times in the past but I never really ‘got’ what the stations would look like or how they would function. It may explain my fascination with exploring them in person now that they are done.

Westbrook Station has two entrances, north and south. The north one is marked by a building with office space and the south one blends nicely into the surrounding features  with its copper roof and elipitcal design.  I barely knew the south entrance existed, and I guess I never thought about the aesthetic aspects of the pathways and benches in the open space between the two entrances.

Westbrook- looking down at platform from above.

Westbrook- looking down at platform from above.

Inside the station I was confronted, once again, with flights of stairs, supplemented by  escalators (both up and down) as well as elevators for those who really cannot negotiate steps. The day I explored this station it was cold enough outside to affect the ambient temperature on the platform waiting for the next train to arrive.  It was quite cold down there. I’m sure that the chill is a function of the fact that even though there is a long stretch of station /tunnel underground, the tunnel is open to the elements at both ends and cold air pours in and settles into the low areas like the fog spilling out of a bowl full of dry ice.

I took a detour to the mall nearby and saw plenty of signs warning commuters not to park in the adjacent lots, which got me wondering about a park and ride. The current information I’ve found indicates it is a ‘walk on’ station without plans for desgnated transit parking. Be warned, I’ve seen by-law officers patrolling the area and chalking tires in and around all of the transit stations.

Westbrook- South entrance design

Westbrook- South entrance design

I’ve included extra pictures of Westbrook Station and I’ll include the City of Calgary’s infographic as well.  Or take a ride and check it out for yourself when you get a chance.

Westbrook Station- south entrance

Westbrook Station- south entrance side view

Groundhog??

Bigger than a gopher, smaller than a beaver, how was it that the groundhog got his own day? Did he have a better agent? Did he use his connections to cut through the bureaucracy, to get some extra press, to network, to expand his public profile, to ride the coat tails of the American Eagle?

Does he get residuals from that movie starring Bill Murray? Does he share them with his friend Chuck? Poor Woodchuck, who seems to do all that work chucking wood while Groundhog merely has to get up early one day a year. Where is the fairness in that?

Just some questions to ponder this Groundhog Day.

~Minkee

Art Point Tree Carvings

Art Point: Tree Carving

Art Point: Tree Carving

Carving in stone or wood is a special art, a trust that the carver will not impose their will upon the substrate of nature, but rather reveal what is there. Did this tree scream as it died, as its once majestic height and girth grew frail and failed to take up nutrients? Or did it sigh a long exhalation of relief that its struggle was coming to an end?

Did it embrace that time when the fight against the elements of wind and weather, pests and pathogens, or the animals that chewed and gnawed at its very being came to an end? It transitioned to this new place and form–a hollow home for fauna, its molecules have become the sustenance for new flora, the sloughing off of bark has revealed its heart and soul.

How long did it wait for the artist? That fleeting being whose life span is just a blip on the cosmic timeline, to reveal its pain, its new majesty, and place it here for others to wonder about this struggle– of tree, of man, of art and of life.   ~Minkee Robinson

Art Point: Tree Carving

Art Point: Tree Carving

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