August 28, 2014 4:39 pm

Southwest ring road plans include diverting Elbow River

CALGARY- A mock up of the southwest ring road is raising eyebrows, due to the scale of the plan which includes diverting a river.

Alberta Transportation released a 3D video of the project, which is being built to link the Trans-Canada Highway to Macleod Trail. Plans include building a concrete channel to divert the Elbow River, where the highway would cross from Highway 8 to Anderson Road.

However, officials stress that the rendering is by no means final.

“This is very early in the whole design plan,” says Bob McManus from Alberta Transportation. “There’s no detailed engineering work, there needs to be open houses and consultation which will be done in Calgary later this year, there needs to be environmental impact assessments.

“We’re a long way from seeing any shovels in the ground or any work of that nature.”

Critics are already voicing concern about the part of road that will cross Weaselhead Flats, which is home to plants and wildlife such as loons, swans, even black bears.

“It’s devastating to the ecological integrity of the wetlands and the Elbow River, and the natural area and the diversity of the area,” says Lisa Dahlseide, executive director of the Weaselhead Preservation Society. “The Elbow River meanders and sweeps across the river valley, creating the ecosystems that you see here. And they’re going to change drastically with the loss of biodiversity if that river is locked into place.”

The society is also concerned the channel won’t be able to handle a major flood.

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