By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – Area residents had the opportunity to see what the proposed Cardiff Road overpass will look like when it is completed a couple years down the road. Al-Terra Engineering, the company contracted by Alberta Transportation to design the overpass, held a public information session at the Morinville Community Cultural Centre Monday to bring residents up to speed on the project and what it would look like.
The project, already underway around Highway 2 and 100 Street in the preliminary stages, will consist of a diamond overpass with a southbound loop in the northwest quadrant of the project as well as a roundabout at the Cardiff Road / 100 Street intersection.
Al-Terra showed storyboards Monday dealing with the short-term first phase of the project and a longer-term end product proposed for several decades down the road.
Phase one addresses the present need which is to deal with the flow of traffic entering and exiting Highway 2 at Cardiff Road. It is estimated Highway 2 sees some 10,000 vehicles pass Morinville each day. Details on how many enter and exit the intersection were not available at the information session. Longer-term plans would connect the interchange to the northern boundary of a West Regional Road, something that was identified in an ISL Engineering and Land Services study of Highway 2 in 2007.
In Phase 1 of the project, scheduled to take two years, Cardiff Road will remain a two-lane road with turning lanes at intersections. Cardiff Road will cross Highway 2 over a bridge which will exit onto southbound Highway 2 via a single lane loop. Cardiff Road will meet 100 Street with a roundabout (not to be confused with a traffic circle). This roundabout will be approximately three feet higher than the present intersection. Al-Terra Project Manager Sheldon Hudson said the intent of the roundabout is to reduce road noise by keeping traffic moving. Ramp intersections will be stop sign controlled.
Al-Terra’s presentation also showed residents how the interchange could expand over the next several decades as traffic warranted. That expansion could ultimately see Highway 2 south of Cardiff Road expanded to eight lanes, while Highway 2 north of Morinville could expand to six. Cardiff Road could also be expanded over time to four lanes from the present two. In time an additional lane could be added to both the northwest quadrant loop and the Cardiff Road / 100 Street roundabout.
Some work already completed, more to be done
In addition to relocating the 100 Street and Cardiff Road intersection some 300 metres east of its original location, a detour road has been completed in preparation for when the current crossing is closed off to make way for the construction of the bridge that will ultimately cross Highway 2. That detour road will be between 50 and 100 metres north of the current Highway 2 crossing and will require additional care for motorists opting to cross the highway from the south.
“There is no way around having that at grade intersection for a detour or bypass around the bridge site,” Hudson said. “It’s important for people to understand that this will be quite a congested area with lots of activity going on for the bridge construction. When you come out on the detour to cross Highway 2 there will be some restricted visibility because of the bridge construction, so it will be very important for everybody to follow construction signs and to just be careful at the intersection.”
Mixed thoughts on project
The info session drew a mixture of opinion on the design of the overpass project, although reactions were mainly favourable that something was being done to deal with the treacherous Cardiff corner.
South Glens resident Susan Bourque said she agreed with the concept in general. “I think it’s absolutely necessary,” she said. “My kids are going to be using that intersection, and I know it’s going to keep them safer.”
But while favourable of the built in safety conditions, Bourque is concerned with potential road noise from the realignment of 100 Street and the possibility of transport trucks rattling her home and its contents when they use their retarder brakes. “This is winter and my windows and my doors are shut,” she said. “What’s it going to be like for me in the summer when you are trying to sit out on your back deck? As it is now when they are coming down 100 Street southbound, they start hitting their retarder brakes and they’re rattling my cupboards.” Bourque said it will be essential for bylaw enforcement and the RCMP to ensure transports are not speeding down 100 Street. “They should only be doing 50 and they’re easily doing 70,” she said.
Sean Strang or Garneau Manufacturing, located in Morinville’s industrial park, also had transports on his mind when he attended Monday’s open house. However, for Strang, the concern was whether or not trucks coming and going to the facility could get proper access on and off the highway.
“They talked a bit about access in and egress out and what kind of loads would be available,” Strang said of his conversations with Al-Terra employees during the information session. “They’re running it with computer test vehicles that exceed, I guess, the dimensions we would ship. So they seem fairly confident that we will be able to ship in and ship out what we need.”
But Strang also attended the information session for his own interests as a resident, coming away pleased with what he saw. “I’m pretty excited for it,” he said. “I think it’s probably going to be a couple years of pain in between, but no pain, no gain, right?”
Al-Terra Engineering will do final engineering designs over the winter with an eye to having the engineering part of the project completed by spring 2012. At that time it will be up to Alberta Transportation to authorize a contractor to begin construction of the project, anticipated to take two years.
In response to some need for clarity on the difference between a roundabout and a traffic circle, we have posted the following Alberta transportation video on the subject.