by Colin Smith
Could there be a light at the end of the tunnel in the saga of Highway 642?
Alberta Transportation will be replacing the failed chip seal coating on the highway with new asphalt pavement in 2020, according to a letter from Minister Ric McIver.
“I understand the Highway 642 chip seal project has resulted in frustration for the Town of Morinville and motorists,” McIver said in the letter, received as information by Town Council at its January 14 meeting.
“It has been determined the best option to address the failed chip seal is to mill off the remaining chip seal and replace it with new asphalt pavement. This project remains a department priority, and work is tentatively scheduled to begin as soon as possible in 2020.”
The issue developed when a provincial contractor began installing a chip seal coat to 100 Avenue/Highway 642 in August 2018.
Chip seal involves a road being covered with a layer of gravel that is sealed with asphalt binder to hold it together and level the surface. It was considered to be much longer-lasting than regular asphalt paving, so reducing maintenance costs.
But immediately after installation drivers began complaining about the rough surface and flying rock chips. The Town has been negotiating with the Province about the matter ever since.
In the December 9 letter, Alberta Transportation also responded favourably to Morinville’s request for a traffic signal analysis of the intersection of highways 28 and 642.
“I am pleased to advise the department will undertake a warrant analysis for traffic signals at this intersection in early 2020,” wrote McIver. “After it is completed, department staff will contact you with the outcome of the analysis.”
However, Morinville can’t expect much to be done anytime soon with the piles of dirt left by the Province, intended for future Cardiff Road interchange construction.
According to the letter, “Although proactive management of the piles was initially planned, the Government of Alberta entered into a period of fiscal restraint this past summer.
“The department will continue to complete weed control; however it is anticipated future management will be considered subject to overall government priorities and available funding.”