December 5th, 2018 ~ Vol. 89 No. 49
The chosen route: Highway 3X from Sentinel to Pincher Station
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Pass Herald Reporter
The entire proposed twinned Highway 3 route from Sentinel to Pincher Station was presented at a public information session on Nov. 29.

ISL has developed a recommended plan refining all the options that have been shown at prior events. Alana Somers, project manager with ISL Engineering and Land Services Ltd., the company hired to complete a functional planning study, says they have incorporated input from the public, the technical standards committee and the project review committee.

At the information session, display boards detailed the interim and ultimate plans for select routes. The interim route options are intended to diffuse congestion until capacity is reached, which would prompt construction of the ultimate plan. For the Highway 3X Truck Route that bypasses Crowsnest Pass, the ultimate plan will not be built all at once and may start with one lane in each direction and will include climbing or passing lanes, where required.

There is no timeline or projection for when the ultimate plan would be needed.

“It’s completely based on timing, funding and approvals,” says Somers. “Once an interim component of the plan is implements, it’s monitored from that point forward as to what’s happening with the safety and the capacity of the highway to when it might be moved to the ultimate.”

The interim plan incorporates traffic lights and has more access points onto the highway than the ultimate plan.
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Wildlife fencing was proposed for four sections of the highway for animal-vehicle collision mitigation, along with animal detection systems and a number of underpasses.

As is the case with projects of this magnitude, residents expressed all types of opinions on the proposed route, both favourable and critical.

The proposed route involves expanding the highway through the Frank Slide, a factor that didn’t sit well with some residents. An interchange providing direct access to the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre and the Town of Frank is proposed to be located at edge of debris field to minimize impact to old Frank town site, adjacent to Gold Creek, where known house remains and assumed graveyard site is located but for some residents, this is not enough and concerns were raised about disturbing a burial ground, as well as expressing fears that drilling and other construction activities may trigger more of Turtle Mountain to crumble.

The iconic Burmis tree will remain where it is today. In the interim plan, the roadway gets widened, but does not impact the tree. In the ultimate plan, a service road is built on the north side of the Burmis tree and the tree will remain between the highway and the service road. A tourism pullout will be available near the tree for people to pull off and take photos like they so often do today.

There was a lot of buzz around access points. Residents affected by road closures and having to access locations using a longer route were split – some didn’t mind the extra drive, while others were bothered by it.
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Property owners at the Allison Creek turnoff were very supportive of the route by their house, as it lowers the highway slightly south and they said it would alleviate some of the traffic and noise right by their house.

“We just hope it gets to be tractors on the ground soon, but it’s nice to at least have a plan,” they said.

Another property owner in Coleman noted that this area is part of a trade network and desperately needs upgrading to support the transactions.

A Blairmore resident, whose property is adjacent to the proposed truck route going through west Blairmore says although his property is significantly affected, he supports the plan for the greater good.

“I’m for it. My place is going to be just across the river from the intersection. We all have to sacrifice for the greater good of the community and the whole province, not just me," he says. “Yes, my house prices might go down, but then my taxes will go down. It's the best thing for everybody. It might not be the best thing for me, but I'll live with it.”

One Coleman resident felt there were too many traffic lights in the interim plan that defeat its purpose of being built as a high-speed alternative. However, he said he was favourable of the ultimate plan and wished that it would be implemented in short time.
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According to Somers, traffic lights in select locations were necessary to ensure safety. She added that engineers would try to coordinate the signals to the best amount possible and the lights would be installed with sensors to detect when vehicles are at the intersection.

“If it was thru traffic only, they wouldn’t be needed but because people are coming from different locations and communities and private homes and they're accessing the highway and needing to turn, it’s hard to find a gap in the traffic to make that left turn. It's a safer situation than the alternative,” she says. “The province’s design guideline is that you look at a roundabout first over a traffic signal because they’re safer than a stop-control situation so we’ve tried to include those when possible. Where the traffic lights are still shown, it’s either the space isn’t available for a roundabout, or we’re planning for the long-term in a different way that didn’t fit for some reason, or the traffic volumes are too high for the roundabout to operate. We've tried to not have as many lights, but they’re there for safety.”

ISL is continuing to assemble a full technical report document using the recommended plan, including a cost estimate.

A draft functional plan is expected to be ready in early 2019 with a final plan to follow in spring 2019.

All material from the information session is available on the project website at

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December 5th, 2018 ~ Vol. 89 No. 49
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