By J.W. Schnarr
Sooner or later, someone is going to be killed on Highway 36 through Chin Lake south of Taber due to degradation of the road and the provincial government’s unwillingness to do something about it, say members of the Municipal District of Taber council.
During their regular meeting on Jan. 13, M.D. of Taber council addressed a letter from Wayne Drysdale, Alberta Transportation minister, regarding a request by council to have the Hwy 36 bridge issue addressed during the 2014 Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties fall convention.
“As discussed, my department plans to continue to operate (Hwy 36 through Chin Lake) with reduced speeds and reduced surface widths for as long a period as possible,” Camplin indicated.
He noted the long-term plan was to re-align the highway with a new bridge, but the cost of the project is making it prohibitive.
“This future project will compete for funding against all other projects in the province.”
Division 4 Coun. Ben Elfring said the letter should be forwarded to the Highway 36 committee currently addressing the issue of the state of the highway.
“I think the Highway 36 commission should be aware of this letter from Alberta Transportation and their lack of response (to the issue),” he said.
“Somebody is going to get killed there.”
Deputy Reeve Dwight Tolton said the province needs to add the project to a budget item and move the road into the hill.
Elfring said he agreed something needed to be done, but said fixing the issue shouldn’t be a new project but the maintenance of an old one.
“That’s maintenance, it’s not a budget item,” said Elfring.
During discussion, Elfring laid the bulk of their Alberta Transportation woes at the feet of Camplin himself.
“The whole problem, to me, is Darrell Camplin (regional director for Alberta Transportation),” Elfring said.
“That is the problem. It’s not Alberta Transportation. (Camplin) represents Alberta Transportation. He is the problem.”
“You should take it to your (Hwy 36 committee) meeting and keep it on the burner,” said Tolton.
Elfring said there could be stumbling blocks in regards to the project with oil prices plummeting.
Tolton replied it wasn’t an excuse as the province has been shuffling their feet on the issue before the drop in crude prices.
‘We heard the same thing at $120,” Tolton said. “We got the same answer to all these issues.”
“They cut the bridge funding when oil was at $120 a barrel,” said Elfring.
“That’s when Calgary and Edmonton got their ring roads, and the twinning of Highway 63.”
“Highway 36 is a major highway,” said Division 1 Coun. Merrill Harris.
“It’s the second-longest north-south highway in the province,” agreed Elfring.