Improvements brightening up downtown underpasses


Calgary artists are painting the town red. And yellow, blue, pink and green – it’s all part of a plan to brighten up Calgary’s downtown underpasses.

With more than 30,000 pedestrians and 3,500 cyclists using these underpasses every day, safe, user-friendly underpasses are important to connecting people with their homes, places of business, and cultural and social destinations.

The Centre City Underpass Enhancement Program has focused on rebuilding our city’s underpasses for the past 10 years. We’re making low-cost improvements to the Macleod Trail and 1 Street S.E. underpasses, including murals on both underpasses, repaving sidewalks, improving lighting, fixing guardrails and cleaning the underpass space.

These two underpasses serve as vital pedestrian and cycle connections between the Stampede Grounds (and future site of the new events centre) and Calgary’s pedestrian hub, Stephen Avenue.

Michelle Hoogveld is among the local artists transforming underpasses adding art and wayfinding. The aim of the artwork is to lead viewers to key attractions while enhancing their experience along the way, she says of her eye-catching paint strokes beautifying the formerly drab Macleod Trail and 9th Avenue S.E. underpass.

“Yes to more colour! The cheerful pops of colour guide viewers north and south as one follows the painted chevron arrows, striped gradients of colour, and vinyl text,” she says. “From what was once a simple grey wall, one can now find direction, and perhaps a bit of happiness as one goes about their day.”

Already, work has been done revitalizing the 1 Street S.W., 8 Street S.W. and 4 Street S.W. underpasses.

We’ve partnered with the Beltline Urban Murals Project and local artists Lacey Jane and Layla Folkmann to create a stunning mural on the 1 Street S.E. underpass.

Our next major milestone is getting shovels in the ground on the 5 Street S.W. underpass next year, following a comprehensive design and public engagement process.

“Investing in the downtown’s underpasses is an important piece of our Downtown Strategy,” says Centre City Implementation program manager Joyce Tang. “We want to make it easier, safer and more enjoyable for Calgarians and visitors to use the underpasses that connect downtown with the Beltline and Victoria Park.”

Making people feel more welcome, supporting and attracting private investment, generating visits and spending, and providing amenities and services to enhance the quality of life for people living and working in Calgary’s downtown is all part of the underpass plan.

We want to know what people think about their current experience with our downtown underpasses.

Let us know how you use them, the good, the bad and the ugly parts of the experience, and how we can make improvements.

Calgary is a dynamic and resilient city and The City of Calgary and its partners are committed to our economic recovery to make life better every day for citizens, customers, communities and businesses. To learn more about our efforts to support “Calgary’s Comeback,” visit