Southwest Calgary ring road construction continues despite environmental appeals
Hearings only affect a portion of the project, south of the Elbow Valley
The province says an environmental appeal that has stalled some construction on the southwest Calgary ring road will not force a change in the way a bridge over the Elbow River is designed.
"The appellants are looking for a redesign of the bridge, but the areas that are under stay [on hold], none of that would be affected in terms of how we would go about building the bridge," said Adam Johnson, a spokesperson for Alberta Transportation.
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At issue are four wetlands that are affected by the new $1.42 billion project, including a popular beaver pond.
Allie Tulick and Jeff Brookman, both with the organization YYC Cares, which opposes how the project is being built through the Weaselhead area, filed the successful appeals.
They are concerned about the environmental impacts and want what's called a clear-span bridge that would raise the roadway over the entire valley.
"They have a very lengthy clear-span bridge over the Bow on Stoney Trail," said Tulick, arguing the province could do something similar for this project as opposed to a bridge with berms on either side.
She says she's aware the bridge is not a part of the appeal, but that the board can make recommendations and is hopeful that could include a redesign.
Hearings in October
The Environmental Appeals Board will hold a hearing on the appeals to the water licence approvals on Oct. 12 and 13 in Calgary.
Johnson said a long clear-span bridge is not a viable option, mostly due to the inability to manage runoff.
"If a dangerous goods spill or something of that nature occurred, that spill would enter directly unto the waterway, without our ability to capture it, which would then head downstream toward the Glenmore Reservoir," he said.
New channel in spring
Johnson says there is no way to avoid the wetlands with a project of this scale, but they are trying to mitigate the impacts, which includes donating money to Ducks Unlimited in order to manage three wetlands for every one that is lost.
As far as the cost of delays from the stay on construction, Johnson said the companies involved have not made a claim for more money, and he would not discuss the matter.
Rizwan Hussain, the manager of the project, said they have built the new 1.4 kilometre channel that will house the Elbow River but will give it a year for vegetation to grow and stabilize along the new bank before unplugging the mouth of the diversion and allowing water to flow in the spring.
YYC Cares will host an open house at the Cedarbrae Community Hall at 6 p.m on Tuesday to outline its concerns and discuss the upcoming appeal.
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