The $20-million Taylor Drive and Ross Street facelift is right on schedule.
In May, the City of Red Deer embarked on one of its biggest and most disruptive construction projects in recent years.
Detour roads were constructed and streets closed as contract and city crews got down to business.
When finished for the year in October, the Taylor Drive and Ross Street junction will be transformed into a system of three-legged intersections.
City of Red Deer Engineering Services director Frank Colosimo said on Thursday that the old intersection was failing during peak hours and was only going to get worst.
“We knew if we didn’t do anything to the intersection, we would likely have to do a couple of ugly things,” said Colosimo. “One was triple lane Taylor Drive Bridge because we would have to put in a triple left turn lane to accommodate all the northbound Taylor Drive traffic, which we didn’t want to do.”
Colosimo said they hope by simplifying the intersection, there will be more greens for traffic in both directions on Taylor Drive. The project should also delay any conversation about adding lanes on Taylor Drive.
Colosimo said the timing was right this year because of failing road surface, ongoing issues with capacity, development of Riverlands, lack of pedestrian crossings and growth of the city.
Under the old four-legged scheme, motorists primarily would use the Ross Street to Taylor Drive route to travel north. An estimated 30,000 vehicles travel on Taylor Drive every day.
The new and improved version will allow the free flow of travel in all directions.
One of the biggest changes will be to 54th Avenue, which was part of the previous intersection. Motorists will no longer be able to travel east on Ross Street from 54th Avenue, but there will be access on and off Taylor Drive.
A new three-metre asphalt pathway will align both sides of Taylor Drive as part of the project. Pedestrians will no longer have to backtrack or cross traffic illegally in order to move about in the area.
Colosimo said they do not normally put sidewalks on the both sides of the road but because of the uniqueness of the area with heavy commercial use and planned redevelopment, they expect the demand for pedestrians on both sides.
For the first time in the city, trees will be planted in the median on Taylor Drive from 45th Street to just before the bridge.
Colosimo said this is something he hopes to see more of on the city’s arterial roads in future years.
Connections to the soon-to-be-developed Riverlands, Railyards and Historic Downtown will also be in place.
Colosimo said the city explored putting in a roundabout but concluded it would not work because of heavy traffic during peak hours. He said it would create an unbalanced flow and not give enough capacity during the non-peak hours.
“It was never an option we could do,” said Colosimo.
All the infrastructure will be wrapped up by October, including the installation of the new signal lights, sidewalks and roads. The landscaping will be completed next year. Between 20 and 50 city and contract workers are on the job every day.
City engineer Wayne Gustafson said the project is on budget and on schedule.
“This road that we are using is a temporary bypass road, which is the old Ross (Street). End of August, beginning of September they are going to close that and they are going to open up the new Ross here and bring traffic into the bypass road using the new road.
“What that will allow them to do to is finish works along that edge unimpeded. They will see a traffic pattern change when they move traffic onto this road to get them on the bypass road to allow them to do the work along that north edge,” Gustafson said.
The public can stay up to date on the project by visiting www.reddeer.ca/constructionseason or calling the Taylor Drive hotline at 403-406-8796.