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Temporary measures to improve Red Deer fair-goers’ access to Westerner Park

19th Street constructions creates some challenges
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Some 19th Street construction in Red Deer will continue during Westerner Days but provisions are being made by the City of Red Deer to enable better access to Westerner Park to fair-goers. (Advocate file photo)

A left-hand turn at 19th Street and 49th Avenue will be temporarily reinstated on Tuesday— just in time for Westerner Days.

Fair-goers are still being asked to think ahead as they plan their route to Westerner Park this week, between Wednesday and Sunday, since the 19 Street Improvement Project is in full swing with construction in the southbound lanes.

According to the City of Red Deer, road construction progressed well enough this month that crews were able to temporarily reinstate traffic lights and left turns at the intersection of 19 Street and 49 Avenue for the festivities.

This will enable drivers travelling west on 19th Street, access to the fair’s western gates on 49th Avenue. (Drivers heading east on 19th Street have always had the option of turning right at 49th Avenue.)

However, motorists are being cautioned that right-turn-only traffic rules will remain in place for the main gates of Westerner Park as well as at Sharpe Avenue.

Once the fair is over on Sunday night, the intersection of 19 Street and 49 Avenue will return to right-turn only to help with traffic flow through the construction area.

Russ Watts, acting engineering services manager, said construction crews worked through the Canada Day long weekend, following some rain delays, “and we are happy that we can open that intersection in time for Westerner Days.”

Since the summer fair is a big boost to Red Deer hotels, campgrounds, stores and restaurants, he added, “we want to make sure everyone can access the grounds and enjoy themselves.”

Watts also noted temporary pedestrian crosswalks will also be installed at the 19 Street and 49 Avenue intersection and near the southwest access gate into Westerner Park on 49 Avenue.

Red Deer Transit is making some adjustments to help people get safely through the area to enjoy the event.

As bus stops on 19 Street near 46 Avenue are closed during construction, the city’s transit department will operate a shuttle service between transit’s Bower Hub on Bennett Street and Westerner Park, via Gaetz Avenue and 49 Avenue. The drop-off point is expected to be near Woody’s RV.

The shuttle will depart that location and loop south through Gasoline Alley into Gaetz Avenue north back to the Bower Hub. While there are no timed stops, the shuttle will make all regular stops along the route — except for the stop on southbound Gaetz near 20 Street. (Transit Customer Service at 403-342-8225 can help when planning routes.)

Watts acknowledged the rehabilitation of 19 Street is affecting the businesses in that area but he said the project is necessary. The south and northbound lanes of 19th Street are expected to be completed by winter, with the roundabout at 19th and 40th to be built next year.

“We are making good progress,” said Watts. But he did not want to guesstimate when certain legs of the project will be done, as much depends on weather and how much wet soil, underlying the road near the creek and wetlands, has to be replaced.

Drivers and pedestrians are reminded to slow down and obey all speed limits, crosswalks and signs while in construction zones. More information on the 19 Street Improvement Project can we found at www.reddeer.ca/19Street.