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Tag: Highway 3 Twinning

Semi with orange cab drives on Highway 3 near Crowsnest Pass

Highway 3 projects loom large in provincial highway planning

With or without federal support, improvements to a major southern Alberta highway continue because of its critical economic importance as an east-west corridor, the province says.

Eight Highway 3 projects are on the books after being separated into “bite-sized chunks” to keep costs in check, said Devin Dreeshen, minister of transportation and economic corridors.

Dreeshen pointed to Highway 3’s importance in connecting the province to British Columbia and Saskatchewan through an area of irrigation, agriculture and oil and gas.

“It’s such a breadbasket of Alberta,” said the MLA for Innisfail-Sylvan Lake.

The National Trade Corridors Fund has so far failed to put money toward a list from the Alberta government of projects in southern, central and northern Alberta. All proposal calls are closed.

The province’s submissions would help pay for upgrades affecting Edmonton, Devon, Calgary, Balzac, Grande Prairie, Fort McMurray, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Crowsnest Pass, Piikani First Nation, Pincher Creek, Fort Macleod, Taber and dozens of other communities.

 

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One of the unsuccessful projects is part of more than 210 kilometres of twinning-related work on Highway 3 and Highway 3X that’s at some stage of consultation, planning or design.

Work will start soon on the unsupported 46-kilometre section of Highway 3 between Taber and a hamlet called Burdett, west of Medicine Hat. A design-build contract won by Ledcor will see ground turn this spring and support about 750 jobs, a ministry spokesperson told the Local Journalism Initiative.

Also beginning this spring is detailed design engineering for the Highway 3X/Coleman bypass. Planning studies are finished for 14 km of work.

Work on 36 km of twinning west of Seven Persons to Medicine Hat starts this year, now that planning studies are complete and a detailed design engineering contract has been awarded.

In the fall, detailed design engineering is expected to start on 21 km of the highway from Blairmore to east of its intersection with Highway 22. More detailed design engineering should follow in the winter of 2024 for 20 km of work from east of Highway 22 to Highway 6 at Pincher Creek. Planning studies are finished for both.

Less far along are three other projects.

A functional planning study is complete for east of Burdett to west of Seven Persons, a section of 30 km. But the province needs to continue consulting with the Town of Bow Island and other stakeholders to finalize alignment, said the ministry.

For Pincher Creek to west of Fort Macleod, a functional planning study with Piikani Nation is underway for 38 km of Highway 3 work.

 

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Boulders of the Frank Slide with Turtle Mountain in the background.

Save the Frank Slide: stop the superhighway

The Government of Alberta, during the mid 1970s, created two designations that protect, for posterity, the Frank Slide’s “sea of debris” and its infamous profile as an internationally known cemetery.

The first designation protects the area’s natural resources, its unique valley-bottom population of plants and animals, and its watershed values. The vision: preservation of the environment.

The second designation, created a year later, identifies the Frank Slide as a provincial historic resource. This ensures protection from development under the Historical Resources Act.

I worked for Alberta Culture for 38 years preserving, protecting and presenting Alberta’s history.

For 35 of those years, and based out of the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre, I studied the geology of Turtle Mountain and its potential to produce a second rock avalanche. I came to know the mountain’s features intimately. I learned the history of the town of Frank, the people who survived and those who died. It’s reasonable to suggest I know the history of Turtle Mountain, the Frank Slide and the lives of the early residents of Frank more thoroughly than any living person.

As I stand on the rocks above the part of town that was buried, I feel for the people impacted by the slide. Walking within this vast limestone cemetery, I recognize the victims and the survivors, and I think about their lives. I tell them I will remember them. Always.

 

Table setting of wedding venue — the Cowley Lions Campground Stockade near Pincher Creek in southwestern Alberta.

 

Millions of people have come to gaze in awe at the Frank Slide, the premier tourist attraction in Crowsnest Pass. It’s studied by scientists, recognized by people from around the world. I’ve shared my knowledge — the dramatic history of Alberta — with an audience spanning the globe.

The Frank Slide must be protected as designated and defined by the Government of Alberta. It must never be subjected to what has happened to the Okotoks Erratic. There, what was once an arresting glacial feature in an expanse of prairie, profoundly significant to Indigenous people, is now surrounded by development to the point that, driving by, you might not even see the erratic. Its sense of place has been lost, squandered because the historical resource designation failed to include an appropriate amount of surrounding land.

Thankfully, people are still stopped in their tracks as they look across the Frank Slide at the fractured face of Turtle Mountain. They, in disbelief, marvel at the volume of rock that blankets the Crowsnest River valley. The viewscape is jaw-dropping. It’s a spiritual place. A sacred place.

The Highway 3 twinning plan, poorly designed, includes a new road and interchange, and a huge expansion of the existing highway’s footprint, all within the Frank Slide. This vision, if allowed, would degrade and violate the Government of Alberta’s twin designations that safeguard and preserve, for posterity, the integrity of the Frank Slide. These designations, profound and significant, protect the majority of the critical Turtle Mountain/Frank Slide viewscape. They must be respected.

The Frank Slide and its dramatic profile in Alberta’s history must be saved.

Monica Field
Resident of Crowsnest Pass, Alberta

Shootin’ the Breeze welcomes submissions about local issues and activities. Personal views expressed in Mailbox articles are those of the writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Shootin’ the Breeze management and staff.

 

 

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