Development delays are stalling road rehabilitation along Meridian Street, but another path has to be found to get the work done.
While we know our province has gone through boom and bust economic cycles over the years, we don’t expect our roads to do the same within a day.
Some mornings driving down Meridian is pretty good, but by dinner time it’s a mess again.
That’s because the City of Edmonton’s Roadway Maintenance department only has a couple of tools in its toolbox to repair roadways and they are usually reserved for potholes and alleyways. One tool is to grade with gravel that lasts a few days/weeks at best and the other is to add larger aggregate and top with an oil mix that lasts a few months. In order to do the latter, the roadway needs to be shut down and there can’t be a lot of rain or moisture on the road.
Although Meridian Street looks a bit like a paved roadway, it’s just gravel that had been topped with oil mix about 15 years ago. The City had been maintaining it using an oil mix until a few years ago when, due to environmental concerns, that practice was stopped. Since then, they’ve been using gravel and grading to try to keep the structure.
In response to pressure from the community and the Councillor’s office, on June 26th the old aggregate and oil mix was applied and everyone is crossing their fingers that it holds for the summer.
Although the City is reassuring everyone that the road is now safe and they are monitoring the condition, it’s clear that there needs to be a permanent paving solution brought in so that we don’t have to go through this again and again. It’s costly and it’s frustrating.
The residents in the area are fed up and so is their City Councillor.
While the efforts of the Roadway Maintenance department have been appreciated as they’ve been doing what they can with the tools they’ve got, it’s the Integrated Infrastructure department that needs to be called in for a major repaving job. But when and who pays for it is to be determined.
The challenge with Meridian Street is that the developer is responsible for upgrading the road as they planned to develop the parcels in the area. Now with these developments having gone cold under the current landowner, the City doesn’t anticipate any movement for several years. The situation is the result of developer commitments that fell through and now the residents are being left in limbo waiting for development to pick back up.
Temporary fixes just aren’t going to cut it. Meridian is the main route that serves a large community and supports a fairly significant amount of traffic.
It’s been stressed to City Administration that the roadways in this area shouldn’t be treated as less important than ones in other neighbourhoods. Everyone pays their share of taxes and should be able to expect a certain standard of infrastructure in their community. Leaving these kinds of issues unresolved for years is exactly the kind of thing that signals to residents of the northeast that they aren’t as important as other areas of the city and that is simply unacceptable.
If no solution is found by budget time this fall, a formal inquiry will be made.