Planning study on hold as ring road location is reviewed

Questions are surfacing as to whether 20th Avenue is far enough east for a ring road around Red Deer.

Questions are surfacing as to whether 20th Avenue is far enough east for a ring road around Red Deer.

On Monday, city council delayed approving a functional planning study for Northland Drive and the future 20th Avenue until its meeting on May 4. The purpose of the study was to develop a plan for aligning Hwy 11A, Northland Drive, 20th Avenue and McKenzie Road as a ring road around the east side of the city.

Mayor Morris Flewwelling said the city wants to dig further into whether 20th Avenue — which would border the eastern edge of Rosedale, Deer Park and Lancaster — is the best route for the bypass.

“Maybe we should be looking at 10th (Avenue),” said Flewwelling after the meeting. “I think that came out of a number of public submissions . . . ‘Why don’t you go farther east?’ ”

During a landowner meeting in April of last year, one person suggested moving the ring road a “half a mile to one mile east.”

Then at a public open house several weeks later, some individuals expressed concerns about noise impact on houses along the west side of 20th Avenue. Another individual suggested moving the road to the east because it will keep high-speed traffic out of the city.

Some residents also hailed the 20th Avenue plan because it would help with growth issues.

The major truck route is expected to help relieve Gaetz Avenue congestion, and connect residential and commercial development in the city’s northeast with major employment areas in the northwest. The road would connect from Hwy 2 and Hwy 11A and eventually wrap around to 19th Street on the south side and back to Hwy 2.

The first leg of the project, Northland Drive, would be built from Gaetz Avenue and Hwy 11A, extending south and across the Red Deer River. It would then hook into 30th Avenue and continue to 20th Avenue or beyond.

Once fully built in about 30 years and when the population is around 188,000, the ring road would ultimately be six lanes.

Stantec Consulting of Red Deer did the functional planning study, which says the proposed alignment for Northland Drive would be “very effective” at reducing congestion within the city due to its location.

“The further east of 20th Avenue the north highway connector is, the less effect the proposed roadway will have on reducing traffic congestion within the city,” says the report. Council was given a public consultation report, which included initial contact with landowners in 2007.

Flewwelling said it was also important to table Monday’s decision so that the city could find out the official response to those public comments.

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