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Traffic lanes to reopen on St. Albert Trail

Drivers in St. Albert have had their patience pushed to the max this summer as construction crews tackled much-needed repairs to major roads throughout the city.
Ben Lemphers

Drivers in St. Albert have had their patience pushed to the max this summer as construction crews tackled much-needed repairs to major roads throughout the city.

Although much of the road repairs have been checked off the city’s to-do list, drivers still aren’t out of the clear just yet, especially on St. Albert Trail.

Crews have yet to complete repairs along St. Albert Trail at the Sir Winston Churchill Avenue overpass and the bridge over the Sturgeon River to the north. The $2.5-million project began in June to repair bridge decks, sides, parapets and joints were all being repaired to keep both bridges in working order for traffic.

The repairs required the closure of several traffic lanes, often causing traffic to significantly back up during rush hour, and many drivers passed along their frustrations to city hall.

Much of the work has been completed, however some details have been delayed due to weather and won’t be completed until the spring, said Todd Wyman, the city’s director of engineering.

To keep traffic flowing the city plans to re-open all the traffic lanes at the end of the month. They will stay open throughout the winter but will close again for about three weeks next spring so the city can finish off repairs.

The city realizes the effect the project has had on commuters, Wyman said.

“We were well aware that over 60,000 cars a day travel over that bridge so we tried to accommodate traffic the best we could, realizing these repairs have to happen,” said Wyman, who noted the city tried to delay the bridge project by a couple of years until Ray Gibbon Drive was open to give commuters an alternate route.

“It’s a very difficult proposition to close any of those lanes down on that road. It’s been several years since we’ve been able to get to those bridges and they were in dire need of repair.”

The city budgeted $3.75 million to continue its arterial and local asphalt overlay programs, which tackled sections of 27 different roads throughout the summer.

The majority of the arterial and local asphalt overlay projects have wrapped up for the season, but the city is still finishing a handful of jobs, including the first stage of LeClair Way, which Wyman said will open by mid-November. The road will link Riel Business Park to Ray Gibbon Drive.

Boudreau Road, Gervais Road, Sir Winston Churchill Avenue and the intersection at St. Albert Trail, Hebert Road and Gervais Road also received face-lifts this past summer.

Although the city still has a fairly significant backlog in road repair, Wyman isn’t anticipating next summer’s asphalt overlay program to be nearly as ambitious due to cuts in government funding. But if the roads aren’t tended to in a certain amount of time, it could spell big bucks for the city.

“If we don’t capture a road and overlay it at the right time, it can cost us about 10 times more,” said Wyman, who is anticipating the government will scale back almost $3 million in grant funding this year like it did last year.

“It (funding cuts) puts a huge damper on our construction and how much we can actually build and re-invest in the infrastructure that’s out there.”

Maintenance to a handful of pedestrian bridges is also on city’s to-do list, but likely won’t be tended to until 2011.

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