Minister Ric McIver warns against Highway 8 'hysteria'

A lobby group calling for a heavy truck traffic ban has placed crosses along Highway 8, but the province's transportation minister is warning "hysteria" won't change his mind.

Group fears catastrophic accident involving toxic materials west of Calgary

Crosses and signs along Highway 8 are part of a campaign to ban heavy truck traffic on the provincial road. (CBC)

A lobby group calling for a heavy truck traffic ban has placed crosses along Highway 8, but the province's transportation minister is warning "hysteria" won't change his mind.

The group called "Not on 8" wants to stop heavy trucks from using the provincial highway west of Calgary from Sarcee Trail to Highway 22, fearing a catastrophic accident involving toxic materials. They also argue the highway is over-capacity and should be twinned.

The group set up white crosses and photos of the premier along the highway.

“We are hoping that people get engaged and angry enough that they start demanding action,” said group spokeswoman Sondra Bohna on Tuesday.

"It's not a matter of opinion that it's an over-capacity road. We have the facts in government documents."

A one-day traffic count from last year shows 14,320 vehicles on the highway east of the Elbow Springs Golf Club.

But Transportation Minister Ric McIver said that doesn't trigger an automatic twinning of the highway.

"It's unfortunate that are a group of people trying to create hysteria, when in fact the government's taken quite a bit of action on Highway 8."

McIver said the government is considering twinning the highway and is already negotiating the purchase of private property along the road. Engineering and design work has also started, but the project is not part province's three-year capital plan.

He added that he has no plans to ban heavy trucks.

"It'll be done based on fact, not on hysteria, not on people trying to bully the government."

The southwest portion of the ring road will neither delay nor speed up any possible improvements to Highway 8, he said.

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