A week after three people lost their lives when an SUV went off the road and ended up in Kananaskis Country resevoir officials have announced a full safety review will be conducted on the entire Spray Lakes Road.
On Thursday, Dec. 30, a vehicle carrying four people left the gravel Spray Lakes Road, which does not have guardrails at that location, and ended upside down in the Spray Lakes Reservoir (see page 4).
Officials with Alberta Transportation said on Wednesday (Jan. 5) it is standard procedure following a fatal incident on roads that the province controls or maintains to conduct an investigation of the site and its adjacent area.
However, under the circumstances, spokesperson Trent Bancarz said Alberta Transportation and the Kananaskis Improvement District have decided to move forward with a full in-service engineering and safety review of the entire road.
He said a consultant is to be hired shortly with the completed review expected by the end of March.
“Technically, it is not a provincial highway… it is an Improvement District road. However, Alberta Transportation maintains and operates it,” Bancarz said, adding as a result of being in the district, under the Public Highways Development Act, it is under provincial jurisdiction.
“Any decisions about improvements to the road would be made by Alberta Transportation,” Bancarz said. “As part of the decision-making process, we would consult with the improvement district officials.”
The road, also known as Smith-Dorrien Road, connects Canmore to Highway 40 and traverses Kananaskis Country and was built in the 1940s by the Calgary Power Company to access its infrastructure.
“The implication of that is much of that road is not built to a highway standard at all, not even a gravel standard,” Bancarz said. “It was not designed to be a highway.”
The road is approximately 65 kilometres from its junction with Highway 40 to its junction with Highway 742 near the Nordic Centre.
Approximately 35 kilometres of it on the south end are built to a gravel highway standard.
The northern 30 kilometres are unimproved.
Bancarz said the road is not designed to be a thoroughfare or a commuter or connector road, but is meant to provide basic road access to the backcountry.
James Allan and Jennifer, Jaimie and Darrin Waugh of Calgary and Cochrane were in the vehicle that left the road last week.
Jaimie Waugh was the only survivor. Jaimie and Darrin Waugh were married, while James Allan and Jennifer Waugh were partners.
The SUV, travelling on the snow-covered Spray Lakes Road about 10 kilometres from Canmore, hit the right snowbank before veering across the road and flipping onto its roof in the reservoir according to witness reports.