While regular access to Sunset Ridge has been reduced to one point, town officials say there are emergency routes that will be opened should a situation arise.
Access to Hwy. 22 has recently been eliminated from the RancheHouse Rd. with the development of the new interchange now under construction, leaving Sunset Boulevard as the sole entry point for the community of about 5,000 people.
It's also the lone access to the RancheHouse.
It followed the permanent closure of Range Road 43 on June 28.
Safety concerns have been expressed by members of the Sunset community.
Drew Hyndman, town executive director of Development and Infrastructure Services, says besides the Sunset Boulevard exit, two other ways motorists will be able to exit the community during an emergency.
An emergency exit is situated at the north end of Sunset Rd., and there's a second one to the south onto Ranche Rd., also from Sunset Dr.
"In the event of an emergency, we would have emergency personnel opening those gates and directing people to them," explains Hyndman.
He said many people had asked for the Ranche Rd. access to be opened during the construction of the interchange, however, it's not suitable. It's a narrow, bumpy gravel road with no street lights to help guide drivers and connects to 4th Ave. through the Cochrane Heights neighbourhood and past the tri-site schools, causing further traffic congestion.
The good news is the Sunset community's transportation corridor will improve after two major pieces fall into place. But, it will take some time.
Funding for the twinning of Hwy. 22 north to Sunset Boulevard was formally approved in the fall of 2021. It will include adding a second southbound turning lane from the boulevard onto the highway, something that hinged on the twinning project.
"We're confident in the contractor that's working on the interchange project that they'll move this project along and we're just eager to see it completed and the benefits that it brings our community, I think (town) council has really been focused on the long-term. connectivity of our community and that's what we're trying to deliver upon. We're just asking people to be patient in the interim because there's a lot of work that needs to be done."
The town included 40 acres of land north of Sunset Ridge in an annexation formalized in July 2019. The new exit will be provided when Melcor Developments begins its third phase of development.
"We'll be working with Melcor to finalize that agreement, and then with their next phases of development, we'd anticipate that they would be building that secondary access. In terms of timing, it would possibly occur in 2025."