BY RYAN WELLICOME
Lacombe County finalized an agreement to facilitate the transfer of the old Hwy. 12 from the Province to the County at council last Thursday.
Alberta Transportation proposed the transfer following the completion of the Hwy. 12 bypass south of Gull Lake and Bentley.
“As part of the agreement (Alberta Transportation) is proposing to give (Lacombe County) a one time payment of $920,000 which is intended to represent the future maintenance costs for the road,” said County Commissioner Terry Hager.
The payment is subject to the Alberta Treasury Board’s approval.
The transfer date has yet to be set and, according to Hager, the Province has suggested the date may not be until the next fiscal year. This would mean the County will not be responsible for the old highway’s maintenance this winter.
“Hopefully they will let us know soon because we would have to do some gearing up,” said Hager.
Alberta Transportation proposed a Memorandum of Agreement to facilitate the transfer and provide the payment.
Prior to the construction of the bypass, Hwy. 12 snaked around the south end of Gull Lake and ran through the heart of Bentley. The Province had decided to realign the highway to bypass the two settlements to offer a more direct route to Hwy. 20 and to reduce collisions due to the highway’s erratic geography.
The final stages of the realignment were completed in August and the highway was opened to traffic shortly thereafter.
Councillor Rod McDermand met the agreement with some concern.
“I’m concerned about the fact that it’s a done deal and what happens if the treasury board says (the payment) is not available now or maybe in the foreseeable future,” he said.
Hager said the County did not have a choice since the Province holds the authority to unilaterally de-designate a highway and transfer it to a municipality.
“We would be left with a road, regardless, with no payment,” Hager said.
The memorandum was approved by council and the agreement was entered into by the County.