“Once a community is destroyed, rebuilding it is a lot more work than just removing an interstate.” That’s what America’s Transportation Director Beth Osborne said as she contemplated the phenomenal costs associated with redesigning and reengineering more than 30 U.S. interstates.
Why do roads need to be redesigned? Because many roads, in their initial design and operation, destroyed communities and caused colossal devaluations in the real estate sector. Poorly designed interstates were created because people with power and money wanted them, and because those less wealthy did not have the power to define and shape progress.
The times they Are a changing’.
Everyone knows that roads, armed with vehicles, kill wildlife. Society has been slower to see how poorly designed roads destroy human life and neighborhoods.
The net result of flawed highway designs: separated communities, plummeting property values, and crippling regional economies.
Residents affected by poorly designed roads talk about how yesterday’s freeway construction degraded their communities, bankrupted thriving businesses and prevented residents from shopping in the neighborhood and walking or biking to nearby stores. People affected by these social injustices describe the pain of watching their communities wither after the roads were built.
Today the United States is spending billions on efforts to undo these past mistakes, to correct the damage created by the costly construction of poorly designed interstate highways.
Here in Alberta, the vision to redesign Highway 3 from Medicine Hat to Lundbreck now threatens, at colossal cost, to sever and degrade the westernmost stretch of highway in the province.
This design error occurred because planners did not recognize the value of a largely intact headwater landscape. This, coupled with the blindsight of the wealthy Twin Highway advocates, led to the creation of a plan that, if implemented, would inflict massive collateral damage on the entire Crowsnest River Valley corridor.
Society must recognize the ecological and social damage and degradation that the proposed high-speed twinning of Highway 3 through this narrow river valley corridor would create. The integrity of Alberta communities must be maintained.
It is also imperative that the tourism value of southwestern Alberta, as recognized by Destination Canada’s Tourism Corridor Strategy Program (the Prairies to Pacific Corridor Initiative), is not squandered in a headlong rush to create a concrete highway. dividing the community through a spectacularly beautiful and vibrant area. Rocky Mountain Landscape.
This is not the year, nor the century, for society to sit back and watch as tunnel-visioned engineers prepare to fly in and bulldoze Alberta’s priceless heritage into oblivion.
In its place, the following is proposed: a Crowsnest Heritage Highway designation for the westernmost 45 km of Highway 3 in Alberta, from Lundbreck to the Alberta-British Columbia border.
Albertans don’t need or want:
- A Deerfoot Trail brand of high-speed superhighway that runs through the heart and soul of Virtue’s headwaters.
- Race track noise. Scare wildlife and scare away animals and people! Not a monolithic, cold, concrete wall that cuts off and overwhelms the community and transforms the imagined Jim Prentice Wildlife Corridor into the Jim Prentice Memorial Speedway.
- Spend $1 billion to cripple one of Canada’s most intriguing, heritage-rich, wildlife-rich, landscape-rich communities and transform it into a high-speed, wasted-space off-ramp to British Columbia.
It’s time to honor a revered, world-class Crown of the Continent landscape, foster quality of life, and impress and engage world travelers with thoughtful decisions and designs that speak to a changing world, future wealth and prosperity. .
It’s time to bury yesterday’s high-speed, high-price thinking and embrace the Crowsnest Heritage Highway.
David McIntyre has a master’s degree from the University of Washington (School of the Environment) and for decades led multi-day study trips for the Smithsonian Institution throughout the western US and the Canadian Rockies.