Do We Even Need The Southwest Ring Road?
According to the Alberta Transportation website, preliminary work started at the beginning of July. The bulk of this work will involve moving power lines, water lines, and sewer lines so that they can start moving dirt in September.
This will be a massive project that will be broken down to two parts. The first to be built will be the section from Macleod Trail heading west along 22X and then heading north through the Tsuu T’ina Nation reserve and up to the intersection of Glenmore Trail and Sarcee Trail where it will turn west along where highway 8 is right now, and stop at 69th Street SW. The next portion which is also known as the west ring road, will be completed at a later date and will go from 69th Street up to 16th Avenue which is also known as Highway 1. Funding for the west portion has not even been allocated yet, so don’t expect that section of the ring road to be finished any time soon.
However, with everything that has happened to the Alberta economy in the last couple of years, do we even need this road to be built? I am sure that everyone has noticed that the traffic on Calgary’s roads seems to have been reduced dramatically since the recession began. This is obviously because of the thousands of people that have been laid off in the oil industry and in unrelated industries. So, there are a lot of people that don’t have anywhere to go in the morning and afternoon rush hours. Also, I am sure that a lot of people are packing up their things and going back to their home provinces, maybe never to return. What if oil prices never recover to the $80 range again? How long will it take for Calgary and Alberta to adapt? What if we never have another boom and the unemployment rate never goes below 7% like in some provinces? Should we still be spending the estimated 5 Billion dollars to complete the Southwest and west portions of the ring road?
My answer is yes. We should be taking advantage of lower construction cost when there is a recession and everyone needs work. But, can we trust the government to get a good deal on these contracts? I am skeptical about that, but I guess we have to give them the benefit of the doubt. If they don’t get this thing done now, it may never get done and since it has been talked about for over 40 years, we need to move forward regardless of the huge cost. You know the government of Alberta will just waste the money on something useless if they don’t spend it on this, so we might as well get a new freeway. Also it took an awful long time to get the Tsuu T’ina Nation to agree to the land deal, and there are time limits built into that deal, so this section has to start now.
Here is a nice video that shows the path that the ring road will take along with the locations of all the interchanges. It was produced by the government of Alberta.