"We're not done yet."
Today, Mayor Jeff Genung and Alberta Infrastructure minister Peter Guthrie echoed those words during a brief ceremony to mark the completion of the town's Hwy. 1A twinning project. It was held at the very spot where it officially kicked off on June 25, 2021.
Guthrie reflected on the discussions with the town on the entire scope of the work they wanted to get on track.
"To be standing here right now with this one complete and the other two under construction feels really good," said Guthrie, also Cochrane's representative in the Legislative Assembly. "That's the thing with infrastructure projects, you know, they're tangible. You have something that you can see and it affects people in the community. Yeah, it just feels awesome."
Mayor Genung takes pride in how they got a project moving that had been on the government's books for over a decade.
"Traffic's been a buzzword for as long as I've been mayor, and it's been the clear mandate of this group to try to make a dent in to alleviate that congestion. We took an innovative approach of taking the provincial plan and asking them if we could execute it. And here we are. It's an exciting day."
Genung says the $28 million project was money well spent. The town contributed about $3.5 million of its provincial MSP funding. Off-site levies and grants made up the rest.
From where the town left off, the province will be covering the cost of twinning the gap to the interchange. Genung says once again their advocacy efforts paid off.
"The province was looking to the town to be building that as part of our project. We resisted that and went out and did some advocacy and got that improvement added to the 1A-22 interchange."
Finishing gap 3, or the stretch of Hwy. 22 to Sunset Boulevard, is another joint initiative involving funding from the province, town, and Melcor Communities.
Guthrie and Genung both agree they need to keep the ball rolling. Guthrie says the government has been doing just that.
Alberta's February budget included planning and design dollars for a refurished bridge on Hwy. 22 across the Bow River, says Guthrie. Looking north, work is underway on the initial steps of developing a roundabout at the Hwy. 22-567 intersection.
"I've got my fingers crossed that we can start construction on [the roundabout] in the spring and there's a bunch of other projects... trying to get the widening of Hwy. 22 to Hwy. 1, et cetera, et cetera. We're going to be continuing to work on all of these moving forward over the next few years."
The town started advocating for further upgrades long before the twinning project was completed.
"I've already been at the Minister of Transportation's office. I met with Darren Davidson (South Regional Director for Alberta Transportation) a couple of weeks ago in Edmonton, and we were talking about widening the bridge across the Bow and getting four lanes from the interchange project at Glenbow and Quigley Drive all the way to the south Cochrane border. That's the next project on my hit list and hopefully, we'll see them move their excavators after they finish work on the interchange and just keep on going."
He says the town's stance is that work would be the financial responsibility of the province, especially since they have identified Hwy. 22 as an important economic corridor.
"I think as anyone who travels through here knows, when we get the interchange built, the bottleneck is just going to shift. So we've got to keep on the province."
The day previous, he attended a luncheon with Premier Danielle Smith in Canmore.
"Today we were talking and listening about ways we can partner with the province as they continue to advertise for people to move to Alberta. Obviously, people are moving to Cochrane, we still remain the fastest-growing community in Alberta, and we're going to need some help from them."
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