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Sturgeon paving way for 127 Street

A road that is likely years or even decades away from being built is causing Sturgeon County some more immediate headaches.

A road that is likely years or even decades away from being built is causing Sturgeon County some more immediate headaches.

Sturgeon County councillors took several steps Tuesday to resolve issues with a proposed realignment of 127 Street, but the road could still cause problems for development in Sturgeon Valley.

Plans for the northwest Anthony Henday Drive call for a connection onto 127 Street once the freeway opens in 2011. Instead of heading north as it does today, the road will curve west and run through Sturgeon Valley, eventually connecting with Highway 2 north of St. Albert.

Several conceptual routes have been sketched out over the years, but no formal alignment has been established.

The issue came to a head earlier this year when the county sent a proposed Sturgeon Heights subdivision to the Capital Region Board. The plan received conditional approval, provided Sturgeon County came to an agreement with St. Albert and Edmonton on an alignment for 127th Street.

A preliminary report presented to Sturgeon County council yesterday, identified a host of significant issues that could complicate planning an alignment.

First, the road has to cross a major rail line, which could require a very expensive overpass. Then it would have to cross the Sturgeon River, requiring a host of regulatory approvals and studies.

Coun. Joe Milligan expressed some frustration the province had rerouted 127th Street off the ring road without a detailed plan for where it would go or who would pay for it.

“It really baffles me that they would have a million-dollar overpass with no plan where to dump all that traffic,” he said. “I can’t see how this could be anything less than a broad regional project.”

None of the proposed alignments cross Sturgeon Heights and councillors voted to have their administration seek approval from Edmonton and St. Albert to allow that development to move forward.

They also agreed to have administration complete a full planning study and seek financial help from Edmonton and St. Albert, money St. Albert has already suggested it doesn’t have.

Second development

The road could hold up a second development, the Quail Ridge subdivision proposed by Beaverbrook Developments just north of River Lot 56. That development has not yet gone to the Capital Region Board.

All the proposed alignments so far would cross the Sturgeon River through that subdivision. Jodie Wacko, Beaverbrook’s director of land development asked council whether all the road planning had to be done now, especially with construction so far off.

“My understanding of this road is that it is a 30-year construction project that will be built in pieces and that the bridge is 15 or 20 years away.”

With so many regulatory approvals needed for the bridge in particular, Wacko questioned whether they would be useless by the time construction actually takes place.

“This bridge may not be built until 2030; is it really worth it? Going ahead and getting all of the approvals?”