Memorial Trail project given go ahead; province opts out of additional work

Work should start quickly after Sylvan Lake councillors awarded a contract to Border Paving for Memorial Trail, ...

Work should start quickly after Sylvan Lake councillors awarded a contract to Border Paving for Memorial Trail, without comment, at their meeting Monday night.

But Mayor Susan Samson certainly had a lot to say in a news release which was emailed to Central Alberta media within minutes of the decision.

The agenda item was delayed during Monday night’s meeting until after an ‘in camera’ session dealing with a ‘legal’ matter. Once they emerged from that session councillors quickly passed a resolution “that council authorize administration to enter into negotiations with Border Paving, the lowest bidder, for the construction of Memorial Trail and, subject to available funding, upgrades to the intersection at Memorial Trail and Highway 20; and further that council authorize administration to enter into a contract with Border Paving for this work in an amount not to exceed the funding provided by written agreement with Alberta Transportation”.

The contract had previously been awarded by councillors at their May 14 meeting “subject to Alberta Transportation approval of funding”.

“We are disappointed with the province’s decision not to fund the costs associated with intersection upgrades for the Memorial Trail project,” Samson stated in the media release. “However, the town is committed to moving ahead as planned with the original upgrades to the road. Council and I are in the process of considering our next steps.”

A meeting is scheduled with Transportation Minister Ric McIver for June 20 “to ensure ongoing dialogue for continued project success”.

“The upgrades to the road are a matter of safety and wellness for Sylvan Lake residents and project plans included a commitment from the province to consider possible additional funding in a fair and reasonable manner. The upgrades required on Memorial Trail are directly related to changes on Highway 781, and I believe the province must take some responsibility for relieving the added traffic and safety pressures that Memorial Trail is facing.”

The issue is not the construction of Memorial Trail as a two lane paved road from 60th Street east to Highway 20. The province has already confirmed it will provide $4.5 million for that project.

However, a traffic impact assessment carried out by the town at the behest of the province, indicated the need for additional changes and upgrades to intersections at Highway 20 and Memorial Trail, Highway 20 and Highway 11 and Highway 11 and 781 (50th Street) to address access and circulation issues created as a result of changes made by the provincial government to the 781 intersection.

Work at the Memorial Trail and Highway 20 intersection was proposed so that the speed along Highway 20 wouldn’t be reduced from the current 100 km/hr. At the Highway 20 and 11 intersection major improvements were contemplated and at the Highway 11 and 50th Street (781) intersection an extended acceleration ramp was included for traffic heading west from the southbound exit.

Alberta Transportation bureaucrats requested that additional work be included as part of the tender package to be done at the same time as the Memorial Trail construction based on the theory that costs would be less if all the work was done at the same time.

When bids were received, with those additional ‘provisional’ items, the total amount was $6,467,505.69.

At the May 14 meeting, Brian Reid, regional director with Alberta Transportation, told councillors “this is a very important issue for us”. He assured councillors, “we’re looking at different ways of funding. I think we’re going to have some success” in getting the additional money.

Obviously that hasn’t happened and the construction season is progressing.

The value of contract to be awarded without the works requested by Alberta Transportation is expected to be approximately $4.25 million, according to a report presented to council by Alan Gassor, director of public works.

“Scheduling of the construction will be subject to confirmation with the successful contractor following award of the contract, but indications are that work can commence at short notice, so as to meet the intention of completing the roadway works in this season.”

Betty Osmond, the town’s chief administrative officer, said after Monday night’s meeting, the town now has to negotiate the construction schedule with Border. Asked if the section from 50th Street west to 60th Street would be completed first, she said, they will “consider traffic flows and what’s most efficient”. She added the contract specifies the work will be completed by October 31 barring unforeseen weather problems.