Opposition to Riverside closure heard at Public Hearing

·3 min read

Drumheller council heard several letters and in-person statements opposing the proposed partial closure of Riverside Drive between 5 Avenue and 3 Avenue during a public hearing on Tuesday, April 19.

First reading of the road closure bylaw was given at the March 21 regular council meeting, and numerous letters were submitted ahead of the deadline for the public hearing, with several residents presenting their stance both in person and virtually.

“We would like to see the engineers rely on traffic studies done more recently than 15 years ago, and ones that also include a long weekend in the summer,” said Lynn Hemming, one of those who spoke in opposition at the public hearing.

Ms. Hemming was one of four people pre-registered to speak at the public hearing, with five registering the day of the hearing to speak; 19 written correspondences were also received, 18 in opposition and one in favour of the closure.

Due to land constraints along Riverside Drive and the Red Deer River, ongoing flood mitigation work faced some challenges. Several options were considered and it was recommended the most cost effective and viable option, based on project budgets and regulatory requirements, would be to close a two-block section of Riverside Drive.

Public concern prompted the flood mitigation team and the Town of Drumheller to conduct a traffic survey and Traffic Impact Assessment (TIA) to gather data and input from the community regarding the proposed alignment.

“In my opinion, you’re shutting down one of the busiest local roads, if not the busiest local road in the valley,” shared Darrel Berlando, fellow presenter opposed to the closure.

He presented council with another option to closing Riverside Drive using erosion control with rip rap and using the existing concrete barriers along this area to build a flood barrier. While he shared he is not an engineer, though he has worked in road construction for many years.

“After all the negative this project has brought to this valley, which I see daily, let’s put some positive back in it and keep Riverside Drive open, please,” Mr. Berlando added.

As the closure would not require a retaining wall, this would greatly reduce the overall project budget and preliminary estimates for this option were about $1.9 million; using a retaining wall and maintaining traffic along Riverside Drive was estimated around $2.2 million and $3.2 million, though these amounts could be as high as $4.6 million.

It was noted, regardless of which berm alignment is ultimately chosen for this portion of the Downtown Dike,a portion of the Riverside Drive road right-of-way will need to be closed, and passing the road closure bylaw will allow this process to be expedited.

All information, written and verbal, will be collected and presented to Alberta Minister of Transportation Rajan Sawhney for final consideration. It was noted this process can take several months before a decision is made.

Lacie Nairn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Drumheller Mail

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