The City of Lethbridge announced late Thursday afternoon that the planned improvements at McMaster Boulevard, McLeod Drive and Mount Burke Boulevard W. are being delayed, and as a result, the intersection will reopen Thursday evening.
That project, coupled with the twinning of University Drive, has resulted in major traffic delays, something one resident says should have been obvious before the work even began.
“I’ve been here quite a while living in Lethbridge and this is the first time I’ve seen such a mess where it was not planned out properly, where they tied up a complete section of the city,” Reid Spencer said. “[It] basically locked us out at different times of the day.”
The projects were not only creating a headache for commuters, and some suggested the traffic issues had the potential to even put some people at risk.
“My concern is between 4:30 and probably 6:15 in the evening, with the rush-hour traffic going to and from, I don’t know that an ambulance or a fire truck could actually reach here,” Spencer said. McMaster Boulevard is closed, University Drive is under construction and this morning it was 57 minutes driving from one side to the other from Riverstone to the university. That’s way too long and I think that people’s lives are in danger.”
That 57-minute drive usually takes around four minutes. Spencer said he believed that kind of slowdown could endanger any of the thousands of residents who live in the affected areas.
“It could be bad, if some someone’s in the bottom for example — or the canyons which is farther south,” Spencer said. “If they needed an ambulance and the ambulance got there, which would be easy to do, but to get back, it’s going to be a long drive to try and get through this traffic jam, especially during that evening traffic.”
The city told Global News that emergency response is always accounted for in projects like these, but didn’t offer specifics in this particular case.
The city has scheduled a media conference Friday morning to further address the situation.