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Intersection improvement project pushed to 2024

Posted on March 29, 2023 by Taber Times

By Trevor Busch

Taber Times

Town council has decided against advancing an intersection improvement project in priority for 2023.

On Feb. 13, council passed a motion directing administration to examine the road conditions at 44 Street and 51 Avenue and come back to council with a report and potential plan. 

According to administration at council’s March 13 meeting, Westview has a high water table in many areas which causes roads and sidewalks to have heaving issues. Public Works has initiated two other projects in the area to promote drainage. 

The proposed project also has drainage issues and the plan to improve the area is to move the catch basin from the middle of 44 Street to the west curb and provide a one meter wide reinforced swale to promote drainage across 44 Street. There will be drain tiles installed on the south side of 51 Avenue to remove the groundwater and lessen heaving in the spring. 

Sidewalks on 51 Avenue need replacing because of heaving. The lane needs to be re-leveled to ensure drainage from the lane onto 51 Avenue, and asphalt replacement in the lane would complete the repairs. 

Public Works was seeking direction from council on the urgency of the project, and if they would like to see it completed in 2023 or 2024 as part of the Town’s regular Asphalt Replacement program.

Engineering manager Ramin Lahiji pointed out if the project is added to the 2024 Asphalt Replacement program, it would provide the best cost savings because of the larger size of the project for 2024. 

Coun. Jack Brewin argued extending 43 Street might be a more effective solution to the problems encountered at that intersection.

“I would like to see what the cost would be to extend 43 Street before we spend all the money on this intersection. Because if we could get rid of 50 per cent of the traffic there, that intersection would last much longer, because there is a lot of turning vehicles chewing up that pavement all the time.”

Coun. Alf Rudd wasn’t sure the project scope would address all the problems, but asked if the price estimate was fair.

“For what we get right now, it’s fair,” said Lahiji.

Coun. Carly Firth was apprehensive about upsetting scheduled priorities for projects.

“I’m just concerned, is this being pushed ahead of other projects that may need to be done, or are we allocating funds to this when perhaps there’s things that were already slated or need to be repaired sooner? I just wasn’t sure how we determine what gets fixed and when – the highest need gets done first?”

“The highest need,” answered Lahiji.

Coun. Joanne Sorensen appeared to agree with Firth’s viewpoint on the issue.

“I think I brought this up when we were going over our budget, wondering if there’s actually enough money to fix our streets and maintain our sidewalks. This is a concern of mine, that items aren’t being addressed, and certain things are maybe pushed in front of other needed repairs. So I’m not sure how to ensure that we’re meeting the needs of everyone, not just a case-by-case scenario.”

Coun. Garth Bekkering argued the project could be earmarked for 2024.

“Councillor Brewin’s comment has considerable merit to it, I believe. If you can reduce the traffic on 44 Street, divert it to 43 Street, open up that cul-de-sac, makes sense to me. The issue at hand, of course, is this particular problem. I’ve drove through there a couple of times. It’s an issue, but it’s not ‘burning’ as far as I’m concerned, but I’m not an engineer. As far as priorities, I think we used to set them on a numbered basis, one, two, three and up, and then administration would address with council how we should proceed.”

Following discussion, council voted unanimously to add the 44 Street and 51 Avenue Intersection Improvement project to the 2024 capital budget for consideration.

The cost of the project is expected to be $122,400.

As a follow up motion during the Standing Items Council Requests portion of the meeting, Coun. Jack Brewin put forward a motion to direct administration to look into extending the south end of 43 Street to 50 Avenue, including viability and cost, and if it can be completed. The motion was passed by a 5-1 vote, with Mayor Andrew Prokop in opposition.

Two of the projects that have been completed recently in the Westview area include the 2018 Street Improvement project (weeping tile placed, replaced sidewalks and repaired asphalt on 51 Avenue) at a cost of $65,000; and the 2020 Street Improvement project on 43 Street was rebuilt for better drainage at a cost of $60,000.

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