by Ashley Janes
Morinville – On Tuesday, Nov. 26, Council passed a motion to put together a Terms of Reference in order to create a task force, which would advocate on behalf of timely construction of a Cardiff Corner Overpass.
Prior to making the motion, Mayor Lisa Holmes wanted to clarify a few points regarding the recent decision to install traffic lights at the Highway 2 intersection. The first was that the decision rested solely with Alberta Transportation, as they are the authority for that road.
She also explained that when Town officials met with the Minister of Transportation in late May of 2013, the options presented and discussed at that meeting were asked to be held in confidence as requested by Alberta Transportation. The information was to remain in confidence until such a time when Alberta Transportation was in a position to release their decision to the public and Council respected that confidence throughout subsequent discussions.
Councillor Stephen Dafoe also weighed in on this matter, revealing that he questioned an Alberta Transportation representative [at AUMA last week] whether it was his understanding that the options presented were to be kept in confidence and that the man confirmed this was the case. “So I would like to publicly state that our CAO and our Mayor, Deputy Mayor at the time, did not lie about keeping that matter in confidence. I asked Alberta Transportation directly and was given the message that it was his understanding that was to be kept in confidence.”
Alberta Transportation presented a number of options as solutions to the problematic intersection. There was discussion of deflecting eastward the Highway 2 northbound entry lane into Morinville, thereby removing Morinville-bound traffic from the highway. Because this project came with a construction cost of $6.5 million dollars, the option was dismissed. “The cost at this point was not something the provincial government was willing to undertake,” Holmes said.
Another option was to use the currently barricaded access road to Morinville in order to improve sightlines for drivers turning left. “This idea was dismissed because they could not find an engineer that would sign off on that,” Holmes said. “It’s unprecedented that it would be considered, and it would not meet engineering standards.”
The possibility of simply closing the intersection altogether was briefly considered and then immediately dismissed due to the implications it would have for the community. “We just found that on the business side of things, and I’m sure the Chamber of Commerce would concur, the effects on the existing business down on the south end of Town would be immense,” the mayor said. “Especially with the amount of traffic that would be re-routed through Town.”
The installation of traffic lights was chosen because, of all the options, it represented a safer solution the more reasonable cost of $2 million. Construction for the traffic lights is anticipated to begin in March 2014, pending the acceptance of a final design and the cooperation of weather.
Mayor Holmes stressed that the installation of traffic lights is an interim measure, which is why she presented the motion for a Terms of Reference to be put together. A task force with the objective of lobbying for timely action is another way for Morinville to have their goal realized. “We are committed to moving forward to advocate for the long-term plan, which is an overpass,” she said. “They’re saying five to seven years would be how long we would be looking at until that starts to happen. It could be sooner.”