Final open house held to discuss the future of Highway 3 around Taber

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WATCH ABOVE: The final open house for a planning study that examines the twinning of Highway 3 took place in Taber, Alta. Thursday evening. Area residents were invited to view the preferred improvement strategy before it's presented to the Alberta government in November. But as Malika Karim reports, it could be decades before any shovels hit the ground – Jun 29, 2018

On Thursday, Taber residents gathered for the final open house regarding the proposed twinning of Highway 3.

“The traffic from Taber going east to Medicine Hat, it’s a two lane. Four lane going west, it’s busy,” said Taber resident Tony Machacek.

The final highway alignment proposes twinning the east-west corridor from Grassy Lake to Taber, with the highway bypassing south of the town and then west to Barnwell.

READ MORE: Southern Alberta residents discuss future of Highway 3

The plan identifies upgrades to the highway along the way, eventually becoming a twinned freeway. But it could be years before any actual construction begins.

“There’s no timelines associated with this,” Stantec Consulting lead Rhonda Shewchuk said. “It’ll really depend on provincial funding and priority as it becomes available. It’s currently not on any construction plans and it’s tough to know when it would actually go through.”

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Long-term planning is needed to ensure the town’s growth is properly planned and the right infrastructure is in place.

“It’s really just to get a long-term planning study to protect the land so that people can better plan for the future,” Shewchuk said. “About where they want to go, where they want to develop.”

The proposed highway bypass south of Taber had some residents expressing concerns at a previous open house last November, saying businesses in town rely on highway traffic.

But others don’t know if those are valid concerns.

“Yes and no,” Machacek commented. “Bassano is also bypassed when they twinned the highway there, and if I want to stop in Bassano I’ll stop in Bassano. I don’t think it’s going to make or break. If people want to stop they’ll stop; if people want to shop they will stop and shop.”

Other residents, who did not want to appear on camera, cited concerns about the new highway cutting into their land and splitting up their properties.

Final costs for the project will be submitted to the province in November, along with the final proposed route.

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