During council reports at Monday evening's council meeting, it was revealed the Highway 22 and Highway 1A interchange project is on the top 10 list for priority government projects – though it's on the bottom of the list.
Mayor Jeff Genung said in a previous interview with the Cochrane Eagle that when he saw the list, he viewed it with optimistic trepidation. He is concerned at how low down the priority list the project is but says he considers it to be among the most shovel-ready projects, which he hopes will lead to it being constructed sooner than later.
Genung added the point differential between the projects listed between two and 10 is marginal.
Cochrane has been waiting for the interchange upgrade for decades and it has become more of a priority in recent years as the population has surged to nearly 30,000 people. Traffic volumes during rush hour and the weekends, especially holiday weekends, have traffic backed up east, west, north and south along both major highways.
While Cochrane won't know if the project will receive funding from the province until the provincial budget is set, likely sometime in October, MLA Peter Guthrie said he has been persistent in his lobbying for the interchange.
"I been advocating for completion of the entire project – 1A twinning and having the intersection completed at the same time," he said, adding that makes the most economic sense.
"If we build an intersection and we have it designed for single-lane traffic feeding into it, the province spends $80 million to $100 million dollars, what's the chances of them coming back anytime soon to complete the other project?" he said.
Guthrie added the twinning of Highway 1A toward Morley is something that might increase the will to complete the interchange due to it improving emergency services access west of Cochrane.
"The NDP had let that agreement lapse and they didn't renew it. Right now the minister is in the process and is in negotiations with Stoney Nakoda to have that put back on the agenda. I think that is really encouraging for us," he said.