Work has just started on digging a new gravel pit for the southwest Calgary ring road that’s being built west of the community of West Springs, north of Bow Trail.
People who live in the area that backs onto the green space knew that Stoney Trail was going to be built, but news of the gravel pit caught them off guard.
“It is terrible and I feel like the cars are just rolling in my backyard,” said Viktorija Rimdap, who lives next to the gravel pit.
“I have a newborn baby and in the morning I am up trying to catch up on sleep. I hear these huge cars are rolling around and we can’t sleep and they start early in the morning, even on weekends.”
The gravel pit will run seven days a week, 12 hours a day.
The area councillor is now hearing from homeowners concerned about their property values, as well as the noise and dust.
“There’s been a lot of concern and rightfully so,” Ward 6 Councillor Richard Pootmans said. “This isn’t the greatest news in the world. Residents were prepared to endure the construction of the ring road but they hadn’t really bargained on a gravel pit. This came as news to us just a few short months ago.”
The contractor says millions of dollars will be saved by crushing the gravel at the site. But some residents are worried about the silica dust produced by crushing.
“When we built this house we knew there would be a ring road here,” Rimdap said. “And we were fine with that, but having a gravel pit and crushing at the same time is something that we never heard of. I think there is a huge health risk to all the residents and all the children.”
Alberta Transportation says an environmental health assessment was done to ensure there are no negative health issues. Noise and air quality will be monitored and dust control is planned.
“The contractor will be using dust suppression techniques, which will include continuous use of water to keep the gravel wet, which will minimize the dust during pit operation,” said Rizwan Hussain, urban construction manager with Alberta Transportation.
“There will be a series of air monitoring stations installed and we will monitor fine particulates, dust and silica. We will be collecting data related to these particulates and this will help us to verify that public health is not compromised.”
A berm will be built between the gravel pit and the homes in West Springs as well as a two-way haul road to Highway 8 that will keep the big trucks off 101 St. A shelter belt of trees will also be planted near the berm.
Gravel crushing is expected to start in May 2017.
The southwest portion of the ring road is scheduled to be completed by 2021. The 31-kilometre highway will connect Highway 22X in the south to Highway 8.