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Thursday, 17 August 2017 07:00

Province gathering feedback for new study of Highway 3

Written by  Demi Knight
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A new Functional Planning Study is currently being conducted for the twinning of Highway 3 from Sentinel to Pincher Creek.


This study staged its first of four open houses this past June in Bellevue to gain the public's opinion on this complex new project.
Alana Somers, project manager, says this open house gave the public the opportunity to voice their thoughts and concerns and give them a better overall understanding of the project.
“The purpose of the open house was to give Albertans an opportunity to learn about the proposed future project, including a possible schedule, and share input on what is important to them about the study area.”
The Highway 3 functional Planning Study project is currently in the process of defining design standards, access locations and upgrades needed to transform the existing two-lane undivided section of the highway into a four-lane road.
This study works to show through the open houses the ideas of the project, as well as the environmental and cultural sensitivities with which the construction could tamper.
Ultimately the study hopes to find the most desirable ways to achieve the goal of updating the highway into a twinned freeway corridor and better identify potential future alignment options in the most community and environmentally-friendly way possible.
With many people curious about the study and the magnitude of the new project, several hundred Albertans showed up to the open house held at the Bellevue MDM June 27 to learn more about the study and give their opinions to the planning team.
“We were pleased by the turnout of more than 400 people at the open house and the mix of long-time residents and residents new to the area,” says Somers.
The open house had an agenda of highlighting the importance of Highway 3 as one of the primary highways throughout the country. 
It showed the highway’s position as a connection between southern Alberta and provinces to the east and west. The open house also highlighted Highway 3 as being one of only three continuous east-west routes throughout Alberta.
The planning committee members who were present during the open house then took time to outline the purpose and objectives of the study and present the constraints and considerations that must be taken into account during the planning phase of this project. 
After that, the board opened the floor to the public so they could provide comments and input on the information they had just received.
Somers said once the floor was opened up, the public were vocal in their interest on many topics regarding the project.
“We received various questions and comments about the project,” she adds. “Many centred around the possible construction schedule, potential highway alignment and subsequent land impacts as well as concerns about social, economic, wildlife and environmental impacts.”
Somers says all these concerns and feedback will be addressed in their study and more answers will be available to the public at the study’s second open house in November of 2017.
The Sentinel to Pincher Station Functional Planning Study committee is hoping to have completed this phase of the project by October 2019, where it will then move into the funding and detailed design stages before finally undergoing construction.
“The study is now underway and the final report will be completed in winter 2019. An approved functional plan is required before funding can be allocated, right-of-way acquired and permits obtained. After that, detailed design and construction may follow. The project is not currently on the three-year Provincial Construction Program,” says Somers of the project’s timeline.
More information on the study as well as a detailed outline of the previous open house that was held in June, can be found online at: http://www.transportation.alberta.ca/6087.htm.

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