By COLLIN GALLANT on November 15, 2019.
Alberta Newspaper Group
Alberta’s new highways budget provides $4.4 billion to build and repair highways across the province. But there’s not one project identified for southern Alberta in budget details released Tuesday.
Ring roads in Calgary and Edmonton will account for $2.9 billion of that amount, officials say. Another $104 million will be spent widening an Edmonton bypass route through Devon.
“More than $1.5 billion is allocated to maintaining the condition of Alberta’s existing highways and bridges to extend their lifespan and support safe and efficient travel,” said Calgary MLA Ric McIver, the transportation minister.
Contacted Tuesday, the minister’s office was unable to respond with details about maintenance projects in the Medicine Hat or Lethbridge regions, including the growing call from regional politicians to improve the Highway 3 corridor.
There was also no information related to the pre-election promise to replace the eastbound Highway 3 bridge into Lethbridge, now about 70 years old.
During a campaign stop in Lethbridge, then-opposition leader Jason Kenney agreed to honour the NDP government’s plan to replace the aging structure.
And the budget release said nothing about twinning Highway 3 between Taber and Medicine Hat, despite the route’s growing importance as one of the nation’s “food corridors.”
With regard to major transportation corridors, the transportation minister was more positive.
Those funded projects, McIver said, “will increase safety for all drivers and support major trade corridors to improve travel for commercial carriers in key industries.”
There was no mention of the Canamex highway corridor through Lethbridge, however. A previous Conservative government designated a Highway 3 bypass route north of the city and purchased land for the projected right-of-way in preparation for the increasing volume of north-south trade.
In the Calgary area, however, McIver allocated $65 million for an interchange for Highways 1A and 22 near Cochrane.
As well, $1.8 billion has been earmarked for the Calgary ring road, including the southwest and west projects and upgrades to five kilometres of the northeast segment.
And $209.8 million is “identified for improvements to Deerfoot Trail in Calgary, with $110.1 million included in the four-year 2019 Capital Plan and $99.7 million in future years.”
Road, water work in southeast
A number of maintenance projects in the province’s southeast quadrant were included in the Ministry of Transportation’s work plan, released this week.
Major projects however, will remain in the design stage for the current year.
Planned work includes a bridge deck replacement on the eastbound Trans-Canada Bridge at Medicine Hat and new signal lights in Dunmore at the intersection of Highway No. 1 and Eagle Butte Road. Administrators will also proceed with design work on the changeover to LED lighting throughout the Redcliff, Medicine Hat and Dunmore highway corridor.
Actual work is expected to proceed on improving the intersection of Highway 3 and Range Road 105, near Bow Island. About 30 kilometres of the route will be repaved between Grassy Lake and Highway 885.
Other paving will take place near Taber, on Highway 36 northward and on a new rest area near Vauxhall.
As for Highway 41, there will be some structural support work done on the bridge crossing of the South Saskatchewan River near Sandy Point and Empress.
Secondary highways in the southeast will also enter the design queue with Highway 515 (connecting Highway 41 to Saskatchewan boundary south of Walsh) slated for future surface improvements to the gravel road.
Design work to widen and repave Highway 61 east of Etzikom is also slated.
In water projects, the ministry is considering upgrading the headworks on the Cavan Lake Canal.
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