Ditching ring road is wrong-headed
Saturday, Jul 26, 2014 06:00 am
I was flabbergasted when I read the headline in a recent edition of the Gazette – “CRB wants ring road off the books.”
Here we have our only “regional planning body” with its collective head in the sand about future traffic growth in the region.
Now you tell me where would we be today if the provincial government back in the mid 1970s had had its collective head in the sand and hadn’t put a land freeze on the location for Anthony Henday Drive? It is not even completed and it is already congested at rush hours.
And the Yellowhead freeway in Edmonton, built in the 1970s, is a traffic nightmare. Even our own Ray Gibbon Drive, which was proposed as an ultimate six lane thoroughfare, is congested only a few years after the ribbon cutting. Ray Gibbon Drive could easily accommodate four lanes today. The bottom line is we need to plan for future transportation issues, and the sooner the better.
Yet the majority of our regional elected officials have put the kibosh on planning for an outer ring road. Give me a break!
Come on Capital Region Board – get with it. Planning is essential. No, we don’t know what the future will hold but certainly at this point in time regional transportation is an issue and our traffic arteries are only going to get more congested. If future growth doesn’t warrant construction of a second ring road, fine, but at least we will not be hemmed in by development that makes construction impossible or prohibitively expensive if and when it becomes necessary.
As I understand it, most of the alignment for an outer ring road capitalizes on existing secondary roads, so the cost will be reduced accordingly. Nevertheless, the planning needs to take place now, so as to freeze development adjacent to a proposed alignment.
Issues like “leap-frog development” and “urban sprawl” raised by our learned leaders are entirely within the control of the Capital Regional Board, so the control of development is the major mandate of the Capital Region Board and can be prevented or mitigated if the political will is there to do so.
It sounds like the mayor of Edmonton is back in 19th century thinking when he states “the ring road is 20th century thinking, whereas the board’s growth plan is based on 21st century concepts like compact, transit-led development.”
Does he think we are going to have LRT built to every corner of the region in 30 years? What a dreamer!
I understand that the City of Beijing, China, has no less than five ring roads. If Edmonton expects to be a world-class city, we need to plan for our future and that future includes at the very least a second ring road as is perfectly obvious at this point in time.
We need to get with it and plan for the inevitable. We elect these officials to do exactly that – plan for the future!
Ken Allred is a former St. Albert alderman and MLA.