Council directs flood mitigation office with downtown berm redesign

Drumheller town council directed the Drumheller Resiliency and Flood Mitigation Office (DRFMO) to pursue a design for a portion of the downtown berm along Riverside Drive and 5 Street East, which will keep the roadway open to traffic during the regular Monday, October 24 council meeting.

There have been numerous changes to the scope of the downtown berm project since the tender for the first phase of the project, from the Gordon Taylor Bridge to the Riverview Terrace condominiums was cancelled by council in May 2022 due to high tender bids.

Following the cancellation, DRFMO investigated cost savings by reducing berm top width, from six metres to 4.5 metres, along with reducing the freeboard amounts to accommodate potential flow rates above the provincial 1,850 cubic metres per second.

Prior to these design changes, it was proposed to either fully or partially close a portion of Riverside Drive and 5 Street East, between 3 Avenue and 4 Avenue East; the partial closure would see this roadway reduced to a one-way, one lane road, or fully closed to traffic with a laneway for residents in the affected area to access their properties.

However, during a public hearing for the proposed road closure bylaw, residents brought forward concerns about how the proposed closure would impact traffic and emergency services to council.

Additional community engagement sessions were held in September to give community members the opportunity to learn more about the project, and provide input for the redesign.

Based on feedback, it was determined the community would prefer an earth-filled berm rather than a retaining wall.

The design team took the input into consideration and brought forward two options for consideration-the first would still see the full closure of Riverside Drive and 5 Street East from 3 Avenue to 4 Avenue East, which would accommodate an earth-filled berm; and the second option would see no changes to Riverside Drive, but would use a large retaining wall in order to accommodate the berm within the restricted space adjacent to the roadway.

Council directed Ms. Blakely to pursue redesigns of the second option, which would keep Riverside Drive open, with the possibility of narrowing the roadway.

This design will be presented to the public on Thursday, November 17 at a community open house event at the Badlands Community Facility (BCF).

It will then be brought back to council in December for a final decision to allow the engineering team to prepare detailed designs ahead of tender and construction anticipated in 2023.

Lacie Nairn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Drumheller Mail