An estimated 5,000 Calgarians took part in Saturday’s festivities celebrating the completion of the largest road infrastructure project in Calgary’s history.

The tunnel, which will open to vehicle traffic on Sunday at 5:00 a.m., will connect Airport Trail between 36 St. N.E. and Barlow Trail, and allow six lanes of traffic to flow beneath the Calgary International Airport’s new runway. Proposed plans include the extension of the LRT line through the tunnel to the airport terminal.

“This is a big deal for many, many reasons,” said Mayor Nenshi. “It represents the culmination of a lot of hard work by a lot of people in the community as well as a lot of my colleagues with the City of Calgary and our partners. I’m very proud of them for delivering this project on time and on budget.”

“We don’t have enough good east-west links in the city and this is an important step to create a new east-west link all the way from the east city limits right through to the Centre St. alignment.”

“This is going to make a huge difference not only for the hundreds of thousands of people who live in east Calgary now, but for the many hundreds of thousands more who will live and work there in the future.”

Ward 3 councillor Jim Stevenson says airport commuters may see some initial relief, the true purpose of the road will not be realized in the immediate future.

“Today, it’s not going to have a huge impact,” said councillor Stevenson. “When we add another 50 or 60 thousand on the other side (of 36 St.), and when we create another 40 or 50 thousand jobs all around this airport, that’s when it’s really going to be important.

Saturday’s event included live entertainment, a Show N’ Shine of classic and rare vehicles, and speeches from dignitaries including Mayor Nenshi and Ward 3 councillor Jim Stevenson, but the main attraction was the 620 metre long tunnel.