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Harvie Heights off-ramp could see future reconfiguration

“Alberta Transportation has told us they would take on responsibility for the entire T-intersection once it’s aligned. The MD has been at odds with the province. We don’t believe the bird cage is our responsibility. We believe it’s part of the highway network.”

HARVIE HEIGHTS – A potential reconfiguration of the highway off-ramp in Harvie Heights – often referred to as the birdcage – could be taking place in the coming years.

MD of Bighorn council received a staff report and third-party engineering review of the potential plans to collect more information for future budgets, if the redesign moves forward.

Bill Luka, the municipality’s director of operations, told council if aligned Alberta Transportation has said it would take responsibility of the intersection but who will pay for what is still undecided.

“Alberta Transportation has told us they would take on responsibility for the entire T-intersection once it’s aligned,” he said. “The MD has been at odds with the province. We don’t believe the birdcage is our responsibility. We believe it’s part of the highway network.”

The review was first requested by Alberta Transportation to get a commitment from the MD of Bighorn to realign the highway off-ramp to a standard layout.

If it proceeds, the realignment would help with potential development in the Harvie Heights commercial area.

A third-party review found by reconfiguring the intersection, it would help with future growth and increased traffic demands as the commercial area is developed.

Luka said the municipality has applied to have the province cover 50 per cent of the project’s funding through the Local Municipal Initiative program. If it’s quickly approved, the project could take place as early as later this year, he said.

According to the McElhanney report, the project is estimated to cost about $888,000.

Additional funding for the project could come from the off-site levy from the highway commercial area, Luka added.

If it moves forward, the realignment of the highway intersection would address safety concerns, allow development to proceed in the area and resolve the ongoing discussion between the province and the MD of Bighorn over who has jurisdiction.

The previous name of the plan – the Harvie Heights Transportation Master Plan – was also renamed to the Harvie Heights traffic review to avoid any possible confusion of people believing it to be a look at the entire road network in the hamlet, the staff report stated.

“We believe a lot of good things will fall into place,” Luka said.

The McElhanney report estimated the intersection has a peak hour capacity of 825 trips until upgrades are needed.

The plan will return at a future council meeting, with McElhanney available to take questions from both council and the community.

With the McElhanney report being highly technical, the engineering firm will provide an executive summary to allow residents to better comment.

The staff report highlighted the municipality could still ask developers to complete a detailed traffic impact analysis in future applications.