May 1, 2014 7:35 pm

Bird’s-eye view of construction along northeast leg of Anthony Henday Drive

EDMONTON – As Edmonton moves into yet another construction season, work on one of the Capital Region’s largest roadway projects is nearing the halfway point.

Construction on the final leg of Anthony Henday Drive, in the city’s northeast, is ramping up for the summer.

“This will be one the busiest construction seasons for motorists along northeast Anthony Henday Drive,” said Transportation Minister Wayne Drysdale.

Northeast leg of Anthony Henday Drive.

Vinesh Pratap, Global News

From developing drainage systems and erecting girders, to utility work and replacing bridge decks, contractors estimate upwards of 1,500 people will work a total of 1.4 million hours this season, across 17 sites involved in the northeast Henday project.

“This project has 47 bridges in it. There are 13 bridges to be removed, which four have been removed,” said Allan Neill, CEO, Capital City Link General Partnership.

In addition, 500 million cubic metres of dirt will be moved this construction season alone. Neill says that works out to be just shy of 170,000 truck loads of dirt.

“It’s a real challenge for our contractors to do this kind of work,” said Drysdale. “You can imagine how many vehicles travel through those areas in a day, getting to work, and trying to do it safely amongst the traffic. And I think they’re doing a great job.”

Watch below: Global 1 news helicopter flies above construction work on the northeast leg of Anthony Henday Drive

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But the project is about more than just engineering and construction; with the amount of work being done, particularly around the North Saskatchewan River, there’s environmental impacts that must be addressed.

“There’s a lot of regulations we’ve got to comply with,” said Kent Peyton, project manager, for the design/build component of the project. “Environmentally, throughout the project, we’ve got a responsibility to restore – to a three to one ratio – disturbed habitat for wetlands and those kind of measures.

“We do significant studies regarding bird habitat, and wetlands, and migratory birds… to demonstrate that it’s restored comparable or better than what’s required.”

By fall 2014

There is some good news for motorists, though; the province says, weather permitting, some major parts of the project will be complete by this fall:

  • Sherwood Drive interchange will be open and provide all-direction access to Yellowhead Trail
  • Two-way traffic will be shifted to the newly constructed northbound lanes between Yellowhead Trail and the Sherwood Park Freeway interchange, so crews can work on reconstructing the southbound lanes
  • Traffic will be redirected to two new bridges: westbound bridge over Anthony Henday Drive for access to Sherwood Park Freeway, and new Baseline Road bridge over Anthony Henday Drive
  • 18th Street will open this summer as the 167 Avenue and Fort Road intersection is closed permanently

Once complete, Drysdale says the 80-kilometre ring road will not only alleviate traffic in the Capital Region, but be an important driver for Alberta’s economy.

“These ring roads are going to be really key to getting our products to market and servicing our industrial sector.”

Watch below: Video animation of what Anthony Henday Drive will look like, once complete

But before that can happen, motorists will have to deal with a few more years of construction.

“I think it’s short-term pain for a long-term gain and hopefully everybody will be patient with us to get it done,” said Drysdale.

The cost for the entire Anthony Henday ring road is pegged at more than $4 billion. The northeast portion comes in at $1.81 billion.

With files from Vinesh Pratap, Global News.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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