West ring road construction work that’s kicked into overdrive is making life intolerable for those living nearby, say residents of a southwest neighbourhood.
Their complaints about dust and late-night noise centre on a section of the ring road the province has said could be two years late in its completion and has vowed to minimize those delays.
In recent months, resident Mathieu Cousineau said those concerns have been increasingly ignored by construction consortium KGL Constructors Ltd. and Alberta Transportation officials.
“KGL are longer responding to emails or phone calls . . . we don’t get any change of behaviour,” said Cousineau, adding his home on Springbank Boulevard is about 80 metres from a construction site.
Work on the freeway, he said, extends past the posted 10 p.m. limit and well into the early morning hours, making it difficult to sleep.
“They’ve been working around the clock, we’re kept up all night — there are horns blowing and trucks backing up,” said Cousineau.
Dust control measures, he said, have also deteriorated, with fine particles coating backyards and entering homes.
“When they’re working, I can’t enjoy my patio, I have to brush everything off,” said Cousineau.
“They’re not meeting their requirements for dust monitoring.”
Water trucks tasked with tamping down dust are often visible but idled at the worksite, he said.
And he said town hall-type updates from Alberta Transportation that were put off before the COVID-19 pandemic hit haven’t been rescheduled.
Other members of the community have said the work has degraded the quality of time they’ve been forced to spend at home due to COVID-19’s effect on travel.
“There is an utter disregard for the families that live in the area and whose health and well-being are impacted,” resident Georgette Bradley said in a post on the Springbank Hill Community Association’s Facebook page.
“It is impossible for us to enjoy our backyards or even our homes due to the noise and dust levels. We’ve had air purifiers and fans running constantly but the dust continues to cause breathing issues.”
Like Cousineau, Bradley said she supports construction of the ring road, but that “a little courtesy and consideration for the families’ lives that they are disrupting isn’t too much to ask.”
KGL has been “just left to do what they want” by the province, said Marshall Naruzny of the Springbank Hill Community Association.
Completion of that portion of the project’s west phase — which runs from Old Banff Coach Road south to Highway 8 — would bring a long-awaited finish to the 101-kilometre ring road.
In June, the province said that phase’s initial completion date of October 2022 could be pushed back by as much as two years due to complications from the pandemic and the relocation of an Enmax Utility line, which required Alberta Utilities Commission approval.
Shortly after that announcement, Transportation Minister Ric McIver vowed to “do whatever we can to shorten up any delays that we have,” adding that a two-year extension is a worst-case scenario.
Last week, McIver reiterated the need to finish the project in a timely fashion and that it’s inevitable nearby residents would be inconvenienced.
“It’s a huge project and you can’t build it without irritating people,” he said.
“I’m not proud of it, but the faster they go, the (fewer) summers are messed up — there’s not a perfect formula.”
He also said he “believes KGL is following the rules,” and that the province and work crews have been responsive to community concerns.
“We jump on them and insist they do what they need to do,” said McIver.
Construction of the southwest and west sections of the ring road have been beset with complaints from neighbours over myriad issues including dust and noise, blasting, overly close proximity and the removal of trees.
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