Traffic congestion solution expensive

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Traffic congestion on Yankee Valley Boulevard in Airdrie’s south is an issue Airdrie city council knows it needs to solve and the solution isn’t going to be cheap, according to a functional planning study presented at the Feb. 6 council meeting.

One big issue is the railway crossing at Luxstone Boulevard/Coopers Crossing, which can hold up traffic for minutes at a time. Two options were presented to council, both of which come with big price tags: $35 million if the roadway is run under the rail track and $55 million to put the rail track under the roadway.

“This is part of the foundational work that needs to be done prior to construction. It’s recognized within our 10-year capital plan, including design, utility movement and eventually the road construction,” said Bob Neale, team leader of Engineering Services. “About 32,000 vehicles per day (travel on) Yankee Valley Boulevard right now. We need all sorts of infrastructure development to meet our growth demand.”

Associated Engineering was contracted to conduct the functional planning study for the city. According to Neale, the study included consultation with CP Rail.

Jim Zagas from Associated Engineering said building the roadway under the railtrack has some benefits, including a lower cost.

“By going under the rail, we can keep the rail at its existing grade, maintaining a decent gradient,” he said. “We would only have to build a single-track bridge to accommodate the existing CP Rail as they expand at that crossing. It’s less intrusive on adjacent landowners. You’re going to get a lot less noise from the roadway…and it’s a much safer road profile and better pedestrian grades.”

According to Zagas, the intention is to build out Yankee Valley Boulevard to be three lanes in each direction from the current two, to accommodate the ever-increasing volume of traffic.

The cost estimates include the need to relocate a high number of utilities, including water, sanitary and storm lines and telecommunications and power lines.

The estimates also include bridge construction costs, road detours during construction, excavation, environmental work, street lighting, work on the CP Rail tracks and engineering fees.

According to Neale, at least some of the cost would be paid for through developer levies.

Construction of either option is years off – detailed design and tendering of the work would not take place until 2018, utility relocation and building road detours could occur in 2018-19 and construction could begin in 2019-20.

The city will hold a public information session to gather feedback on the options Feb. 22 at Genesis Place from 4 to 8 p.m.

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