Bowden councillors 'not happy' with interchange plans
Tuesday, Aug 21, 2012 06:00 am |
Bowden town councillors expressed concern that upgrades being planned for the Highway 587 and Queen Elizabeth II Highway could have a disasterous effect on the town if they go ahead as planned. The proposed changes would re-route traffic away from highway-side businesses and make it more difficult for people to access them.
“I guess the message we’re trying to say is that slip ramp is very important to our community,” said Andy Weiss, the town’s chief administrative officer, when presented with the plan by engineers working on the design, at Bowden’s regular council meeting on August 13.
“I can’t see any reason it’s being changed,” said Coun. Sheila Church.
“We don’t want it changed,” added Coun. Sandy Gamble.
The plan was presented by Naginder Jabbal and Andy Heath, transportation engineers with McElhanney, which is working on the re-design of the interchange for the provincial government. Dennis Grace, a transportation engineer with Alberta Transportation, told councillors the main reason the design changes are being planned is to make the highway safer by gradually, over several decades, removing level accesses and making interchanges the sole way to get on and off the highway. In this preliminary plan that could be implemented in about five to 10 years, a roundabout would replace the interchange, and in so doing also close the current southbound off-ramp that leads directly to businesses adjacent to the QEII.
Once the new roundabout is built, vehicle clearance will be maintained at the present level, but any overheight vehicles will be forced to go to either the Innisfail or Olds overpasses. Church said that would cause hardship to farmers.
“You’re taking away their access,” she said.
In including the roundabout, three landowners would be affected by traffic coming closer to their properties than the current interchange. The delegation told council it was decided that putting the interchange as close to the property owners as it has been proposed would be safer than doing it at a different location because moving it to a different location would involve a sharper curve for drivers going through the roundabout, which would be more dangerous.
Alberta Transportation has favoured roundabouts rather than interchanges for the last several years, said Jabbal, due to lower maintenance costs on traffic lights and a smaller footprint.
“For the traffic system to flow properly … what we’re trying to do is separate traffic types (to avoid crashes),” Jabbal told councillors.
Following the meeting, Mayor Robb Stuart said council is concerned that Alberta Transportation will be re-routing traffic around the town and its businesses adjacent to the highway.
“Still our main concern is losing that access off the highway to Bowden. We’re not happy with that at all, it’ll impact the town significantly and they don’t seem ready to amend their plans,” he said adding that the campground, rest stop, golf course and diner will no longer have access from the highway under the current proposal.