By Cole Parkinson
With a construction project on Township Road 9-4 scheduled for 2020, a letter expressing concern has been received by the Municipal District of Taber.
During council’s regular meeting held on May 26, the project was discussed along with the letter that was sent to the municipality.
The project entails 1.5 miles of road that is scheduled for soil cement and then chip seal in 2021, and the road itself is an acquisition to the M.D.’s hard-surfaced roadways.
“The base work needs to be done regardless of what type of surface is applied so the project must proceed. The construction schedule is always very tight. At this point, the goal of administration is to complete the projects that have been approved for the 2020 construction year. Adjustments can be made to the schedule if required,” reads administration’s report.
A letter from Alison Davie of North Paddock Farms listed four main concerns with the project.
The first concern is around road bans and highway access if the road is sealed, the second centred on the safety at the intersection of Township Road 9-4 and 16-5, the third is regarding the quality of the existing foundation and the final concern is around the timing of construction.
Davie requested no major construction from Aug.1 to Oct. 31 as this is when trucks are on roads during harvest time. Administration’s report provided council with solutions to all four concerns brought forward.
“The first concern is about road bans. As laid out in the Road Ban Policy, farms that are located on banned roadways can request an exemption permit to the nearest unbanned roadway. According to the policy, exemption permits must be applied for on an annual basis. The four-way stop sign at Twp Rd 9-4 and RR 16-5 was the next concern. The current plan is to leave the four-way stop sign in place. The third concern is about the current condition of the base. The road base will be rebuilt before the hard surface is applied to ensure strength. The fourth concern is with construction timing. In Alberta, we have six months where construction can take place. We try our best to accommodate but it is always a bit of an inconvenience to those directly affected no matter what time of year it occurs. This project will take roughly five weeks to complete, weather permitting. Detours will be laid out and traffic will be allowed through the site as much as possible. We are scheduled to start this project mid-August but due to start-up delays this season we are looking more realistically at mid-September if we stick with the current schedule. The option does exist to rearrange the schedule to start this project immediately after completion of our current project, which will postpone shoulder pulls on Township Road 13-0 between Range Road 15-4 and 14-1, Township Road 8-4 between Range Road 13-3 and 13-0 and Range Road 13-3 between Township Road 8-0 and 8-4.”
“This has come up a number of times since I’ve been on council where we improve a road and it puts some of these storages, whether it be potatoes, grain or main farmyards, on an island. The response in the memo is very acceptable,” said Coun. John Turcato.
As this issue has been something that has been brought forward before, another potential solution would be to implement haul roads within the municipality.
“The haul road designation is something we haven’t used here, at least to my knowledge. I think it is something we probably should start looking at, especially when we have potato storages and feedlots, things like that that stay in the same place. Obviously, we can’t chase around where potatoes are being seeded, we can’t always have those roads considered a haul road. But it’s something we should start looking at as we go forward,” said Stu Weber, director of public works. “If we are going to be making some investments into these higher-end roads, we should be looking at that type of base work and do that upfront so we know we can support heavier loads as opposed to just doing a normal build and hoping for the best. I’m not a fan of hoping for the best, I like to put in the effort on the front. In the meantime, the exemption permit is how things are being handled and because that is their only access in and out for people, we would be issuing a lot of permits.”
Lethbridge County is one municipality that has implemented designated haul routes, though Weber believes they still do some ban roads.
“I believe they still ban at certain times of the year because they do a lot of their stabilization with calcium. The calcium is still very susceptible during parts of the spring when it is wet and soft. It doesn’t really come to full strength until it dries out a little bit,” added Weber.
A motion to change and review road status during road ban policy discussion at the next policy meeting, and a motion to request admin to review roads and determine if there is a benefit to having haul routes in the M.D., were both carried unanimously.