‘It feels like an earthquake’: Calgary ring road blasting to resume despite residents’ concerns

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WATCH: An information session was held on Saturday to address concerns raised by Calgary's Cougar Ridge residents about blasting related to ring road construction. But as Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports, work that was put on hold last month will continue this week – Jan 11, 2020

An information session was held on Saturday to address concerns some west Calgary residents have over blasting that has been happening during ring road construction.

People living in Cougar Ridge used to enjoy a tranquil spot backing onto the green space west of their homes but that all changed when blasting started in November.

“It feels like an earthquake,” said Cougar Ridge resident Kelley Curtin. “The house shakes, the windows rattle and the walls creak. It is violent.”

“I have lived in Seattle and I’ve been in California when earthquakes have happened. I was in Las Vegas in a highrise and I was less scared [being up] 20-some floors in Las Vegas during an earthquake than I was in my own home,” said Curtin of one of the blasts that occurred in December.
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The blasting is part of west ring road construction and it is happening 150 metres from Curtin’s backyard. The blasting has been put on hold since Dec. 17 as Alberta Transportation looks into concerns raised by residents. Some are worried about damage to their homes.

READ MORE: Valley Ridge owners concerned over Calgary ring road tree removal

At Saturday’s information session, a project director with Alberta Transportation said the velocities and frequencies measured from the blasts are not in the range that would cause structural damage to homes.

Alberta Transportation officials said since the work has been suspended, a review of the blasting plan has been completed and approved with no changes.

“What was put forth by the contractor is appropriate as reviewed by multiple professional engineers registered in the province of Alberta,” said Shane DeLorey, a project director with Alberta Transportation.

Contractors with the ring road project took video in homes next to the sites before blasting started. A small crack was recorded near the front door of Curtin’s home.

On a visit to the house on Friday, Curtin said staff with Exlpotech — blast consultant engineers — told her the crack has become bigger but couldn’t confirm if it was a result of the blasting.

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“They are saying that these measures shouldn’t do damage, however, because of our proximity to the blast site, they do a pre-home inspection and one of the cracks that we have witnessed, they have indicated that yes, the crack has gotten worse,” Curtin said.

Curtin said she is disappointed with the answers she got on Saturday at the information session.

“They are measuring it and they are monitoring it but it shouldn’t do any damage. But if it does, that’s why the project has insurance and why we have insurance and it will get figured out. I would rather not have to repair my home after. It seems like a giant headache,” Curtin said.

“There is still a lot of information that we don’t have, and we don’t understand exactly what they’re going to do to mitigate those blasts.”

READ MORE: Calgarians cry foul after birdhouses removed near ring road

Other Cougar Ridge residents said they are still left wondering what kind of damage might be happening to their homes as the blasting continues to get closer to their properties.

“Unfortunately, when speaking with different people, you get different answers so it’s not always clear,” said Cougar Ridge resident Alex Onos at the meeting.

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“The concerns would be cumulative damage, a year of up to four blasts per day — is there going to be damage sustained from repeated impact over and over again?”

The blasting is expected to resume this week but that will depend on the weather and will continue up to four times a day until late summer or fall.

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