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Letter: Little Red Deer Road in serious need of substantial work

Community group expresses grave concerns over delayed repairs
opinion

When discussions with local elected and unelected officials do not produce results, what is a community expected to do but rally together to raise awareness and encourage action. 

And that is what we, the Oklahoma Community Board, humbly request. Action toward providing safe transportation for our family farming community, our many local businesses and all of those who call our community home through multiple resort communities and campgrounds surrounding the Gleniffer Reservoir. 

If you take a drive west of Innisfail on Twp. Rd. 354, locally known as the Little Red Deer Road, you will quickly understand the road issues that need to be addressed. It is in serious need of substantial work to address numerous safety concerns. 

Parts are narrow, sections have been frequently repaired leaving uneven and poorly joined surfaces, and seasonal effects such as enormous frost heaves on the river hill have simply been addressed with inadequate “bump” warning signs.

To address these issues, Red Deer County has come up with a three-phase plan to upgrade the road over three years. While this appeared promising to our community, the issue lies in continual delays of the work. 

This project has been discussed and planned for several years, and was slated to finally begin in 2020. Due to lagging negotiations unrelated to the current economic situation, the project has now been given a tentative start date of 2024. This is deeply disappointing to our community.

The number of travelers using the Little Red Deer Road is significant. Daily users include local residents, school buses, rural businesses, and farmers. 

Farmers are experiencing increases in equipment size, the travel required between parcels of land, and the number of trips necessary to take products to market. Many within the county and beyond use the Little Red Deer Road to access the West Country. 

The Dickson Dam and the Little Red Deer Road also provide an important route to connect divisions within the county. There is enormous traffic generated by the two resorts and two campgrounds located on the south side of Gleniffer Reservoir, with about 1,000 sites all together. 

The reservoir also attracts considerable day-use traffic in the way of boaters, picnickers, beach-users, fishermen, cyclists, joggers, etc. The dam further connects a third, even larger resort and a couple more campgrounds to the Little Red Deer Road.

The county has tools at its disposal to move this project forward in a timelier manner than currently outlined. Shifting blame and continually putting this vital project off is something we cannot stay silent on. 

In this election year, we are calling on our county mayor, all councillors of Red Deer County and the county staff to step up and make the safety of their residents and all who travel within our community a priority. 

No one should have the power to hold up a road improvement project that will be to the safety and benefit of thousands. Let’s get the project started.

Michelle Mooney,

On behalf of Oklahoma Community Centre Board