Hwy. 88 crosswalk deferred due to unexpected costs

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Bad news on the crosswalk project by the ball diamonds. The Town of Slave Lake was ready to shell out significant cash to get one installed, but now it’s not going to happen. At least not for the time being.

The reason? Because the estimated cost has shot up by $300,000 and council doesn’t have the appetite for that kind of spending.

The monkeywrench in the works is a new set of requirements from Alberta Transportation. Something called ‘geometric analysis’ and ‘pedestrian analysis’ are now required, council heard in a report from the town’s community services director Garry Roth at its April 14 meeting. It’s just an estimate, but with engineering costs, the $200,000 bill that council had approved for 2020 is now $500,000.

Let’s call it off, said councillor Darren Busk. “I don’t see this project as warranting $500,000.”

“Gosh no,” said mayor Tyler Warman, agreeing.

Busk’s colleagues weren’t ready to give up on it, though, and Busk allowed a friendly amendment to his motion to kill the item in this year’s budget. It came from councillor Julie Brandle; a suggestion to defer a decision on the project, pending the results of further lobbying.

Warman followed that up with a motion to send a letter to the minister, expressing the town’s wish to complete the crosswalk according to the originally approved specs.

Summing up, Warman spoke about the history of the crosswalk idea. The town has been lobbying for as many as seven years for some sort of solution to the dangerous crossing there for pedestrians. The Sawridge First Nation has been concerned about it even longer, he said. A breakthrough came 18 months ago when the Minister of Transportation at the time gave the project verbal approval. The initial requirement from the department was that a crosswalk from the west side of Hwy. 88 would require some sort of walkway on the other side. So building that became part of the plan and would be covered in the $200,000. The crosswalk would link the two ball diamond complexes and also improve the safety of people going to and from the Sawridge Travel Centre on foot.

The intersection of Caribou Trail and Hwy. 88.

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