Construction, delays, Labour Day Weekend activities, and the return to classes have combined to create a perfect storm for motorists in Cochrane.

It wasn't supposed to be that way, but try to explain that to people stuck in traffic jams spanning several blocks.

"I understand people get frustrated when you say short-term pain because they are living it day-to-day," says Drew Hyndman, the town's executive director of development and infrastructure services. "We are as well, and we want to get through this. A lot is happening all at once, and we're doing our best to navigate it."

"It's critical work for our community that the community has been asking for a number of years, and it's going to be a busy time over the next week to 10 days with the Hwy. 1A paving, the closure of Centre Ave. as well as the interchange work. Then add in the Labour Day Weekend, the rodeo, and back to school."

He says trip planning could help ease frustration during construction

"I think that's one of the big things through this construction. Use alternate routes where possible, and plan ahead. Community safety is also a big message for us."

The town has been working closely with school authorities to address the current challenges.

The town says it is taking proactive measures to ease potential traffic congestion and delays. They include optimizing traffic signals along Hwy. 1A and 5th Ave. to enhance traffic flow and reduce congestion. They are also aligning the construction schedules to minimize disruptions during drop-off and pick-up times. 

"We've got kids going back to school, so slow down and be aware that the kids are going to be making their way to school. Those first few days are so important as they transition into their respective schools."

The Cochrane Christian Academy is scheduled to open in its new location in the Powell St. school in East Cochrane. Hyndman says the town has been working with parents and daycares in the area to establish drop-off zones during construction.

They've also been working with the Lions Club, who will be encouraging people to access the rodeo grounds this weekend from the south, either via Griffin Rd. or the Glenbow neighbourhood.

On the bright side, the top dress is being completed on the town's portion of the Hwy. 1A upgrade. He says after that, it's a matter of completing some off-road work.

"The intent is by early next week to have all the paving complete, so we'll have two lanes in both directions."

On the flip side, the town had wanted to see it completed before the long weekend.

"Unfortunately, that was not the case, but [the contractor] is working diligently through the entire weekend to get that finished, understanding the priority of getting it done before school starts."

He says after that, they'll focus on completing the widening of Centre Ave.

While there, the town has opted to remove and replace both the aging water main and storm system infrastructure in East Cochrane. Had they waited, it would have meant closing the busy intersection once more in the future, adding to the cost.

The intersection was originally expected to be closed after the August Long Weekend for about a month.

"The contractor discovered some additional work was needed to complete the stormwater pipeline installation along 1st Ave., so we didn't want to close it for a longer period and moved the date."

He says progress is being made on the Hwy. 1A-22 interchange project of the provincial government, and believes we're already seeing benefits of the temporary intersection on Hwy. 22 with the roundabout. Another roundabout will be added this month, and he believes they will provide motorists with a valuable introduction to the final design.

He says this interchange project is complex. There are adjacent railway tracks, gas pipelines that need to be replaced and upgraded, there's been a massive regrading of the entire north side of the project, and town infrastructure needed to be moved.

"I appreciate the impact on people's day-to-day and the significant delays that people are experiencing. I understand that, and we're doing our best to keep those delays as short as possible. On the other side of this, I think they're going to see how the improvements will benefit them and the community in the long term."

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