By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – Hidden in the depths of Budget 2013-2014 and in the tweets of Twitter comes the revelation the Cardiff Road interchange project has been postponed indefinitely.
In a Twitter question to Parker Hogan, Press Secretary to Ric McIver, Alberta’s Minister of Transportation, HCouncillor Lisa Holmes asked for an update on the Cardiff interchange.
Hogan indicated to Holmes the interchanged had been “deferred.” When pressed for information on the timeline, Hogan replied – “Not on the 3 yr construction plan.”
As recently as Nov. 27, 2012 Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock MLA Maureen Kubinec offered Morinville an update on the delayed but still to proceed Cardiff Road interchange.
“The design of the interchange is complete and the project is expected to take two to three construction seasons to complete once its started,” Kubinec told Council at that time, adding she had been promised quarterly updates on the project from Alberta Transportation.
The MLA acknowledged last November how important the issue was in Morinville and reminded Council she was still slugging away on the community’s behalf. “I will work really hard to make sure this project happens as soon as possible,” she said. “It is the number one issue on my list of priorities.”
Councillor Lisa Holmes is not pleased with the news the project has been deferred. “To say that I was disappointed to learn this news is a huge understatement,” she said. “Our community and our region has worked so hard to communicate with the government why this intersection need to be addressed as soon as possible. We are going to have to renew our efforts in advocating our message in order to get this seen as a priority item by the GOA again. The Minister made a commitment to us in 2011 that this was a funded project so the fact that they have taken our money and reallocated it to somewhere else is not acceptable.”
MLA Kubinec did not immediately respond to The Morinville News’ request for information on the interchange’s being deferred by the 2013-2014 budget.
Two years and waiting
The interchange, announced by Kubinec’s predecessor Ken Kowalski in the summer of 2011, was to begin construction last past spring; however, problems acquiring the two sections of land preventing the project’s commencement.
UPDATE: MLA Kubinec responded to our request for info and said she did not yet have a lot of detail on the matter and hoped to get further info Monday morning. “It sounds like it is put on hold but I want to know more detail on next steps,” she said.
This interchange was and still is important to the residents of Morinville.
That the Government of Alberta removed it completely from the three year plan completely shows that their priorities are mismatched from those of many Albertans. This decision falls in line with the cancellation of the STEP program which hurts rural communities and smaller communities like Morinville.
The GOA continues to pay themselves and their high level staffers more than the private sector, they continue to pay out extravagant bonuses and they continue to pay too much for expenses. All of this overpayment is partly to blame for program funding cuts and capital project cuts like the interchange. It also goes to show that the government is not willing to make sacrifices themselves, but instead expects Albertans to make the sacrifices instead.
How many more people have to die at the existing Morinville entrance before the Government will do the right thing and put the interchange back on their construction plan?
I applaud Councillor Holmes for digging into this and finding out and for her continued vigilance for our town citizens to try and get it back on the list. I intend to join her in those efforts to lobby the Government to make the interchange a priority. In the meantime, please drive safely and don’t take risks when getting on to the highway or across it.
As a possible alternative solution, I would suggest that the government move the turn-off lanes about 200-300 metres to the east. That way, people approaching the corner would have more visibility and those drivers that make the sometimes death-defying choice to cross Hwy 2 to go southbound have more visibility. I believe that someone suggested this earlier in this discussion. I have seen it work quite well in other locations.
Myself, most times of the day I now use the existing overpass to get on to Hwy 2 South. Other than people not paying attention to traffic trying to get on the highway, a problem anywhere, I have had no difficulty with the onramp.
The above would likely solve most of the problems and cost a lot less in land, building and maintenance costs.
Two very good comments! While I agree partially with Rob’s comments regarding the Provincial Government and their seemingly lack of constraint regarding expenses etc. and yes thank you to Lisa for continued vigilance to this issue, I strongly believe that it is time to step back and realize that there is not any money in the Provincial coffers to do projects such as this. It the Cardiff corner an issue? Of course it is and it is extremely sad that people are being killed and injured at this corner. However, I fully agree with Brent’s comments regarding the alternative solution and believe that not only would it work, but also a much CHEAPER solution and one that the Province may agree to fund.
In closing, I would like to say: “And so it begins – the cutting of budgets”! As I have mentioned before it is time for our Council to review and plan for the future not counting on the existing funding from either the Federal or Provincial Government.
Linda and Cliff
In reality, as stated years ago when they did indeed change that intersection, there is no southern lane visibility. Easy fix but people had to push for the overpass. To suggest and even pass a second overpass for a rural town was ludicrous! Another example of poor planning!
I can probably say with much certainty that most of the accidents that have taken place at this intersection were preventable. Lack of judgement along with impatient drivers have contributed to a dangerous intersection. I have done my best to avoid entering highway 2 at this location, but not because of this.
Cardiff Road at this location is in horrible shape. The road is in desperate need of resurfacing. I can somewhat understand the lack of attention drivers may pay to what is happening on their approach to the intersection while they attempt to steer around the sunken pavement and numerous potholes.