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Council discusses options for Highway 28 enhancement

Motorists could see some delays this summer driving through Cold Lake as city council looks at options to upgrade a portion of Highway 28. Designs for the project, which would see the stretch from 52nd St. (Best Western) to 54th Ave.
A rendering on what Highway 28 going through Cold Lake would look like following enhancement work. The designs include a median and trail or sidewalk.
A rendering on what Highway 28 going through Cold Lake would look like following enhancement work. The designs include a median and trail or sidewalk.

Motorists could see some delays this summer driving through Cold Lake as city council looks at options to upgrade a portion of Highway 28.

Designs for the project, which would see the stretch from 52nd St. (Best Western) to 54th Ave. (No Frills) redone, are about 90 per cent complete. The city is hoping to put it out for tender soon, but with the full project coming in well over budget, council has some decisions to make.

“Our goal is still to be in the ground this year. We do have a variety of costs depending on big the scope of the project is. It's not a simple design, it's very complex and there's a lot of components to make this upgrade,” said CAO Kevin Nagoya.

The Highway 28 enhancement has an approved budget of $4.4 million, which includes about $400,000 for traffic signal lights. During the 2016 budget deliberations, funding was provided with the intention of overhauling from 54th Ave. to the main street (50th Ave.) intersection.

Consideration was given to extend the project up to 52nd St., which was included in the designs completed by Stantec. The cost for the proposed enhancement was pegged at $13.5 million, including all utilities, the proposed water main looping, and full reconstruction of the highways and east service road from Centre Ave. (Kingsway) to 54th Ave.

The full scope of the project would see the construction of a dedicated left turning lane to the Assumption Jr./Sr. High School, as well as lights at that intersection. There would also be dual left turning lanes coming and going from base, the entrance to the service road that leads to KFC (55 St.) would be closed off where it comes out at main street, traffic lights would be installed at the 52nd Ave. intersection and there would be medians built.

The proposed designs include a sidewalk or trail on the northbound side of the highway, and the elimination of the pedestrian crosswalks in front of the school and OK Tire.

“As we're obviously over budget, we went back to look at what we can do to reduce the scope of the project and bring it within budget,” said Azam Khan, general manager of Infrastructure Services for the City of Cold Lake.

During their corporate priorities meeting, councillors were presented with five options that would reduce the scope and cost of the Highway 28 enhancement.

Option one would reduce the mill and overlay width on the service road from A&W to 54th Ave., remove the installation of the water main on from the new fire hall to 54th Ave., and replace full reconstruction on the east service road with a complete mill and overlay of reduced with. This would reduce the cost by about $1 million, coming in around $12.6 million.

The second option, while still over budget, would reduce the cost to just over $9 million. However, the south limit of the project would be reduced by 350 metres and wouldn't include signal lights at the Assumption intersection, as well as have the same reductions as option one.

Option three would further elimate traffic signalization at 52nd Ave., all improvements on the service roads, and reduce the north project limit by about 330 metres. The price tag for that would still be almost $6.5 million.

In order to fall within budget, council would need to look at option four. Just the bare bones of the project, for $2.5 million they could complete the proposed water main from 51st St. to 52nd St. and all deep utility work within Centre Ave., but defer all asphalt work until the 2017 construction season.

“Option five is to just do nothing. With the budget we could do just mill and overlay work up to Walmart almost from No Frills. That is a short term solution to buy us a few years,” explained Khan.

However, if council were to commit to the two-year construction period required for the full project, Coun. Chris Vining noted that cost could potentially be cut in half.

“You're realistically looking at $6 million to $7 million per year to get all of that done in two years. My concern is if we do the $6.5 million for option three this year, if we have to do more engineering again next year,” said Vining. “Are we wise making a commitment to getting all of the engineering done and flow it over two years, make it part of next year's capital plan?”

Regardless of which plan of action city council choose to move forward with, residents can expect to see work on Highway 28 this year. With thousands of vehicles heading down that stretch each day, Nagoya said there's no way around causing an impact on traffic.

“When we start to excavate we're going to be narrowing down the roadway, there's going to be detours. Residents are going to have to be patient with those types of improvements. In the long run, those improvements are going to be built for a long time and it's going to be a tremendous facelift to the Highway 28 area.”