Dangerous interchange should at least be eligible for a pension

Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012 02:40 pm | By Murray Elliott | Olds Albertan

The Alberta government has dropped the Olds interchange at the QE II overpass and Highway 27 from its three-year construction program. The 46-year-old mistake could be 50 before any relief is possible.

Why should that dangerous and embarrassing access point to this great town continue?

In the recent budget, Premier Alison Redford has committed to spending hundreds of millions of our future tax dollars. Her government is counting on higher oil revenues to meet its

spending promises. The antiquated Olds overpass, however, will continue baffling strangers and scaring residents. The recent census was kind to Olds. We’re growing, thriving, and outpacing many of our neighbours. It’s too bad we risk depleting the population every time a driver heads north on QE II or tries to stop into our friendly town via the northbound lane.

We’ve all done it, and we’ve all heard about it. When approaching the Olds turnoff from the northbound lane, one must plan the right signal switch at the right time. Too soon and you may be mistaken for a Three Hills-bound traveller. If you time it right, make sure you watch for the often lengthy northbound lineup on the overpass trying to hit the all-too-brief northbound runway strip with its own dangerous challenges, hard acceleration, congested traffic, snow, ice, etc. Oh, and for you Olds-bound drivers, you hope the person on the northbound overpass acknowledges the yield sign. Not always the case. This doesn’t include the all-too-often accidents and flipped semis one has to manoeuvre around, which can add to your terrifying drive.

Our town and county representatives are equally concerned and have a hard time accepting a deferral because of a lack of funds. According to Alberta Transportation’s Red Deer office the program budget has fallen from $1.38 billion to $1.6 billion. The “very rough” cost estimate for the Olds interchange is $15 million. Really? Isn’t that a drop in the bucket in relation to the overall budget, and more importantly, the safety of our citizens?

It seems our dangerous black mark is being ignored or at least delayed, but perhaps our antiquated overpass may be eligible for a pension, or a heritage grant. It’s old enough, and has retained its character and integrity, and remains virtually unchanged.

What will we do? You can contact MLA Richard Marz at oldsdidsbury.threehills@assembly.ab.ca and/or Transportation Minister Ray Danyluk at laclabiche.stpaul@assembly.ab.ca. This may seem like a moot point in the light of the pending election call, but when votes are up for grabs the timing may be impeccable.

We have a politically imposed barrier to visitors trying to establish themselves in Olds.

Ask every candidate who calls or phones, “What do you propose to do about the discouraging welcome our overpass extends?” It’s a good town, it’s our town and it’s our individual responsibility to elect representatives who share our purpose.


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