By George Brown
For residents of 38th Street it’s a matter of comparing gravel to asphalt.
Residents along the eastern edge of Ponoka have formally petitioned against the town’s offer of a local improvement plan to pave their street. The town has now prepared four surface application options for the residents to consider but the group hasn’t had a chance to meet to consider the list.
“We don’t have anything yet to propose, that we want to bring forward,” said spokesman Rick Bonnett.
Because 38th Street is considered a local road, council says it’s up to the residents who front onto the street to pay to have it paved or dust-proofed, not taxpayers at large.
The options to pavement and concrete curb and gutter include an application of oil mixed into recycled asphalt; spraying the existing surface with oil and sealing it with gravel chips; improving the base course and applying a cold mix of asphalt; and an application of liquid asphalt.
Council and the residents have been at loggerheads since the street was ripped up and rebuilt in 2006 when Ponoka tied into the regional water system. Before construction the road had some form of sealant applied to it, which satisfied the residents.
Not only are the residents fed up with the dust but also they are also concerned with speeding traffic and the volume of vehicles coming off Highway 53 and using 38th Street to go to the sanitary landfill. CAO Brad Watson said the town recently surveyed traffic in the neighbourhood to determine its destination and its speed.
“We’ve got a distinct picture of what’s going on in the developed area and what’s pass-through traffic,” he said.
Because about one-third of traffic in the area passes through, it doesn’t make sense to terminate 38th Street at Highway 53. “All we would be doing is shifting the traffic patterns elsewhere,” he said.
The town also learned that about half of the traffic is speeding, although that includes traffic that might be just a few kilometres per hour over the 50 km/h speed limit. RCMP have been asked to step up patrols in the area.
Bonnett told council residents want a written agreement with the Town of Ponoka specifying the cost of the dust control solution and the schedule of application “so we don’t get ourselves into the same thing of waiting until September or October and going through dust and so on again.”
“We’d like to move forward as quick as possible,” he added.
Coun. Marg Barr said there can be no guarantee how long any of the dust control options would last before it would have to be re-applied.
“The only time the road will be completely up to standard is when it’s paved with curb and gutter,” she said. “Pretty well anything that is done will be a temporary solution.”
“It’s probably three to five years on most of them — tops,” Bonnett agreed.
He told council many residents say they were told in 2006 when the North Red Deer River Water Services Commission installed the line the street would be rebuilt to the existing standard.
“The regional waterline was not a town project,” explained Gerald Matichuk, director of engineering and development. “It was a regional waterline project so I can’t answer you on what was said.”
He explained that while the line was laid in the east ditch, excavated material would have been removed from the ditch and placed on the roadway, mixing with the road’s dust suppression material, becoming contaminated.
Whether it was a written understanding or not, Coun. John Jacobs said it would be “fairly reasonable to expect the road to be returned in the same shape.”
Barr said some residents have said since the town applied dust control a few weeks ago, the road is as good now as it once was.
“The road, in the opinion of the neighbourhood, has never been the same since the regional waterline went in,” Bonnett said. “It’s never been a good road but it was better than it has been for the last four or five years.”