By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – Less than a year after then Transportation Minister Luke Ouellette and then Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock MLA Ken Kowalski announced Morinville would get a second overpass; plans to have the project completed in the third or fourth quarter of 2013 as originally stated appear unlikely as the province is still working to acquire the land to make the project a reality.
In designs presented at an open house in Morinville last December, it was shown the project would consist of a diamond overpass over Highway 2 with a southbound loop in the northwest quadrant of the project as well as a roundabout at the Cardiff Road / 100 Street intersection.
Heather Kaszuba, a spokesperson with Alberta Transportation, said Thursday the Cardiff interchange was published in the province’s three-year construction plan and is still very much going ahead. “We are moving forward on the project,” she said. “The final land purchases are currently under way. In the meantime we are reviewing the design and acquiring the required permits.”
Kaszuba said the land acquisition process is underway but not completed. Until it is, moving forward with the long-talked about overpass cannot proceed. “There is no delay in the construction,” she said. “There is no delay at this point in the construction of the Cardiff Road interchange. We are working through the land purchases right now. That is the work that’s underway. In the meantime we are also moving forward as well on completing the designs and also acquiring the required permits.”
Although the Alberta Transportation spokesperson said the project is not delayed, there is no guarantee the project will be completed by the original completion date of 2013 put forward by then Transportation Minister Luke Ouellette in June of 2011.
“The construction program indicates that the project would begin within the next three years,” Kaszuba said. “I can’t speculate. Certainly construction could begin earlier than that. But until we have the designs completed, the land purchased, and a construction contract in place, I won’t be able to give firm construction dates. The most important thing is it is a project that’s included in the three-year construction program and there has been no delay.”
Whenever the major infrastructure project gets off the ground, It is believed its completion will greatly reduce traffic accidents at the intersection of Highway 2 and Cardiff Road. Traffic on that stretch of highway has increased more than 30 per cent over the past decade. The intersection accounts for eight or nine traffic collisions annually.
At the time of the announcement last summer, then MLA Ken Kowalski said the Cardiff corner situation was something that had been brought to his attention many times. Both Morinville and Sturgeon County both had longed lobbied the province to do something about the treacherous corner.
Sturgeon County Council has recently discussed their concerns about the increased traffic through Cardiff along Cardiff Road once the interchange is completed.
Recently elected PC MLA Maureen Kubinec said during the Morinville All Candidates Forum she understood the issue was related to land acquisition for the project. “I am disappointed to hear that the interchange is delayed,” she said. “I know how important it is to the residents of Morinville/Cardiff and area.” Kubinec said once sworn in as Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock MLA she take the issue to Alberta Transportation to see if there is any further information and bring the results back to concerned constituents.