Highway 1 and Dunmore Road Interchange Project
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Highway 1 and Dunmore Road Interchange Project
Municipal Affairs - Municipal & Provincial Policy
Issue(s): A high level of commercial and residential development has occurred in the south end of Medicine Hat which has caused an increase to traffic flow to the area. This has increased the potential for major traffic collisions at the Highway 1 and Dunmore Road intersection.
An increase in commercial and residential development in the South area of Medicine Hat has caused a considerable increase in the traffic flows at some major intersections in the city, namely Highway 1 and Dunmore Road. This, coupled with Highway 1 through Medicine Hat not meeting National Highway System Standards as a freeway, make it plausible to move forward with a Dunmore Road/Highway 1 interchange. The Medicine Hat and District Chamber of Commerce recommends that Alberta Infrastructure and Transportation expedite the construction of such an interchange as a preventative measure against fatalities and accidents, while also improving the traffic flow on the Trans Canada highway.
Residential and commercial development largely increased in the south area of Medicine Hat in 2007 and 2008. The Southlands/Somerset residential area was built in 2007 and contains more than 600 residences and multi family buildings. Development will continue in 2011-2012 across South Boundary Road in the Somerside area with another 200+ available lots. In 2008 a Super Walmart and Canadian Tire were built in this district, spurring major commercial development in a small area. Since this time a visible increase in traffic flows to this area has raised concerns regarding the intersection at Dunmore Road and Highway 1. Fortunately, no fatalities have been reported at this intersection however there has been an increase to collisions since 2007 as seen in Table 1.
|Severity of Collisions||2009||2008|
|Property Damage Collisions||23||27||12|
|Total Reportable Collisions||30||31||16|
Table 1: As reported by Alberta Transportation, Office of Traffic Safety, July 2011
In 2006, Alberta Infrastructure and Transportation (AIT) with Stantec Consulting conducted a functional study of Highways #1 and #3 in an effort to create a future long-range plan that would have each section of highway conforming to criteria that would label them as Expressways within the National Highway System. Such criteria include preferred posted speeds of 100km/h (no less than 90km/h) and no traffic signals to maintain free-flow traffic conditions.
In the summer of 2007 AIT came forward with enhanced operation and development options of the Highway #1 and #3 corridors for support by the City of Medicine Hat.
On September 4, 2007 City Council adopted the recommendations by the Development and Infrastructure Committee to endorse the item ‘Highways By-Pass Study – Internal Corridors Improvements’ which included the recommendation of a full interchange at Dunmore Road and Highway #1.
On January 26, 2009 Mayor Norm Boucher sent a letter to Luke Ouellette, Minister of Transportation, supporting the recommendations of the Stantec report with specific attention given to safety and the Dunmore Road interchange.
On April 23, 2009 AIT held the final Open House for Internal Corridor Improvements Planning Study.
The City of Medicine Hat sent a letter to Luke Ouellette on May 25, 2009 stating that Medicine Hat City Council rescinds their support of the Stantec report’s recommendation with the following motion: ‘That City Council rescind its support of the Trans Canada Highway Improvements until public consultation with stakeholders is conducted.’
On June 18, 2009 Minister Luke Ouellette sent a response to Mayor Boucher stating their decision to rescind support for the study was regrettable and that sufficient public consultation was given regarding such a study.
On September 9, 2009 a letter was sent from Mayor Norm Boucher to Minister Luke Ouellette suggesting that the improvement to the Dunmore Road interchange move forward as a programmed improvement, separate to the other recommendations in the Internal Corridor Improvements Planning Study.
On October 5, 2009 Minister Luke Ouellette responds to the letter of September 9, 2009 indicating that the Dunmore Road interchange can be addressed separately from the rest of the internal corridor improvement issues. He also states that the interchange project is well outside the three year capital construction program and will be dependent on overall provincial priorities and funding availability.
On December 1, 2009 a letter was sent from Minister Luke Ouellette to Mayor Norm Boucher detailing how priorities of future infrastructure projects are ranked, while stating he was unable to provide a definite time frame for when engineering work would be advanced because of the current financial constraints on the province.
On May 11, 2010 the City of Medicine Hat offers to contribute 50% of the engineering design fees, up to $1 million, to expedite the design process. The City asks that the funds be reimbursed prior to the commencement of construction and the design work be initiated in the summer of 2010 and be completed within 12 months.
On June 9, 2010 the City received a letter from Minister Luke Ouellette stating the province is unable to accept the terms of the offer of $1 million, specifically the provision to return the contribution at the time of construction. He also states that the project is considered a future project and is not within the three-year construction program.
On August 12, 2010, Luke Ouellette instructs his staff to begin the process of hiring a consultant to undertake the design phases for the proposed interchange. It was anticipated that the design work would take two years to complete. He also stated that to advance the construction of the interchange would require a significant cost share with the City of Medicine Hat.
In the spring of 2011 an update on Trans Canada Highway Improvements was sent to the City of Medicine Hat from Alberta Transportation (AT). AT informs the City that an RFP has been sent to three prequalified engineering firms with a closing date of May 24, 2011. AT called for design completion by the summer of 2012.
Development in the south area of Medicine Hat is set to continue in the coming years. The City of Medicine Hat has an additional 20+ acres of land that can be commercially developed and the potential for more residential development exists south of the Somerset area. With these considerations in mind and the inevitable increase to traffic flows which will continue with future development, it is imperative to improve infrastructure at the same time. As noted by the Medicine Hat Police Service in early 2009, “The long lines (noted lining up from said intersection past the mall entrance at Wendy’s) are mainly due to the increased traffic in the south with the large retail stores all being located in one small area. The collisions occur when the users of Dunmore Road are tired of waiting at the lights and take chances when crossing the highway.” This increase of motorists frustration coupled with the posted speed limit of 80km/h on Highway 1 provide the potential for serious accidents to occur.
Also of note, Stantec and Alberta Transportation estimate the eventual re-routing of Highway 1 and Highway 3 to bypass the City of Medicine Hat is a 20 to 30 year plan. As the population and traffic continues to increase during this time, improvements will have to be made to the existing infrastructure to accommodate the increase.
The Medicine Hat & District Chamber of Commerce supports the construction of an interchange at the intersection of Dunmore Road and Highway 1, as a preventative measure against fatalities and accidents, while also improving the traffic flow on the Trans Canada Highway. Therefore, the Medicine Hat & District Chamber of Commerce recommends that:
- The City of Medicine Hat and the Government of Alberta consider this project a top priority in infrastructure plans and development for the City of Medicine Hat.
- That the Government of Alberta expedite the process for completion of the interchange at Dunmore Road and Highway 1 and complete the design phase by 2012 with plans for construction to commence by 2013-2014.
Date Approved: November 16, 2011
Date Completed: 2013