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Long road to nowhere

Cochranites are tired of the highway 1A/22 interchange saga.

Cochranites are tired of the highway 1A/22 interchange saga.

Every day we live with the congestion, safety concerns and economic impacts caused by an outdated road system designed for a community one-third the size Cochrane is now - not to mention the external growth pressures caused by growth in Rocky View County.

Mornings, evenings, weekends and holidays, Highway 22 and Highway 1A is a winding parade, sometimes stretching kilometres, except there are no happy faces and candy only scowls and angry honking.

The side effects can be seen in the aggressive driving habits across the community, and social media posts from tourists who recommend bypassing Cochrane to avoid the traffic. Both have their negative impacts on safety and economics.

Last week, MLA Peter Guthrie stood up in the legislative assembly and asked the transportation minister about the future of the interchange project an answer Cochranites have been waiting for since the previous government promised to get it built.

Unfortunately, the minister's answer didn't offer much clarity except to confirm the construction project was not in the budget, despite the former MLA's insistence it was.

What was revealed, is the fact that the design work to date has cost more than $2 million and archeological excavations for the project began on Tuesday. It is encouraging that study and design work is ongoing, it wouldn't make sense for the government to continue spending money on the project just to dump it. It also wouldn't make sense to let the amount of money already spent on the design work go to waste.

That being said, no promises have been made by the new heads of the province to build the interchange and as this government prepares to release a budget that its campaign suggested will be one of fiscal restraint and spending cuts, we're not holding our breath.

It's good to see our MLA standing up and lobbying for this project to move ahead, unfortunately, and no disrespect to Mr. Guthrie, it's a bit a of the same tune Cochrane has been hearing for years and through multiple governments.

We are hoping our new MLA will have the clout and persistence to convince this government that this project along with the twinning of both the 1A and 22 highways should be a priority and at least be started before this government's term is up.

We appreciate the fiscal realities Alberta is in right now and understand and support the need for prudence in certain areas, but this project is so overdue it is no longer simply needed, it is a necessity to ensure safety and protect future economic development.