Design work continuing on Olds interchange: AT
Although the Olds interchange has been dropped from Alberta Transportation’s three-year construction program, work on the project is continuing, an AT spokesman said last week.
“We’re still working on the design, we’re still working on land acquisition, we’re still working on getting it ready for tender. It has not been cancelled,” public affairs officer Trent Bancarz said in a phone interview.
“The three-year construction program is done every year, so it’s not unusual for projects to slide on or slide off the list. It just means the project will be undertaken at a later date.”
AT’s Red Deer office informed municipal officials earlier this month that the project had been deferred due to lack of funds. Bancarz said the overall program budget has fallen this year to $1.38 billion from $1.6 billion in 2011.
While determining which projects make the list is based on available dollars and “a system for ranking their relative priorities,” Bancarz acknowledged that shifting priorities under the new premier could also be a factor.
The “very rough” cost estimates for the Olds interchange project is $15 million, he said.
“My understanding is we can use a lot of the existing bridge structure, which keeps the costs down.”
Concerns expressed by some municipal councillors last summer about the roundabout design for the interchange were “no factor at all” in the decision to defer, he said.
Al Kemmere, Mountain View County councillor for the Olds area, said he has received a “significant” number of calls from constituents since news of the deferral was publicized.
“I’m concerned,” Kemmere said. “It’s one of the oldest overpasses and unsafest overpasses we have. I was looking forward to getting it done. It’s disappointing, big time.”
Kemmere said he would be in touch with Olds mayor Judy Dahl to coordinate efforts to address the issue with the province.