Old Smith Highway realignment must go ahead this year

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

The realignment of a section of the Old Smith Highway has to go ahead in 2023.

It’s a ‘use it or lose it’ scenario, M.D. of Lesser Slave River council heard at its Jan. 25 meeting. A grant associated with the project has a deadline and it is looming.

Planning has been in the works for several years. The M.D. went as far as purchasing a quarter section of land to make space for the route around an area of instability.

The plan, council heard, is to put the job out to tender – hopefully as early as late March.

“The hope is to conclude this project in November, 2023,” said M.D. engineering technologist Saidi Assumani, who is heading the project for the M.D.

The estimated remaining cost is $2.6 million. The grant will cover all but $463,000, which must come out of M.D. reserves.

Accordingly, council voted in favour of a motion to allocate $500,000 additional.

That’s the same amount, incidentally, that the M.D. hopes to save by providing its own gravel for the project.

Councillor Nancy Sand expressed surprise at the amount of ‘rip rap’ required.

“Yes,” said Assumani. “A lot of rock for those bridge culverts.”

Two of those will be required. Of the two they replace on the old section of road, one will be removed, “where it’s sliding really bad.” The other will be left in place. The M.D. could remove it too, Assumani said, but it would add 200 grand to the cost of the project.

CAO Barry Kolenosky advised council that if for some reason a contractor can’t be secured at a reasonable price, a ‘Plan B’ is being put in place.

“We could do this by the hour,” he said, hiring local people.

In fact they would have to do it, one way or another.

“Without it, we will lose our grant.”

The new stretch of road will have four approaches built in, council heard – two on each side.

Councillor Brad Pearson was happy to hear that, because he hopes the M.D. can sell off what’s left of the land it purchased to accommodate the realignment. Chances are good, said Assumani. They have “a nice view of the river.”

The slide zone on the Old Smith Highway that’s forcing the M.D. to re-route the road.
Photo courtesy M.D. of Lesser Slave River

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