Alberta spending $1.9B on roads, highway upgrades in 2024

Click to play video: 'Alberta spending $1.9 billion on major highway and bridge projects'
Alberta spending $1.9 billion on major highway and bridge projects
With hundreds of thousands of vehicles on Alberta's roads each day, the provincial government is spending nearly $2 billion into building and maintaining them in 2024. As Jasmine King reports, that money is meant to help the province keep up with growth. – Mar 22, 2024

The Alberta government will be putting $1.9 billion towards both the planning and execution of upgrades and expansions of roads and highways across the province in 2024.

Minister Devin Dreeshen said it’s part of the transportation ministry’s three-year, $8.1-billion capital plan and hopes it inspires confidence amongst Alberta’s construction industry.

“There’s a lot of work that’s going to be done here in the province, so it allows construction companies here in Alberta to know that they can staff up and they can buy equipment to know that they can bid on these projects,” Dreeshen said at a news conference Friday at Graham Construction in Edmonton.

Terwillegar Drive overpass expansion at Anthony Henday Drive to begin

Terwillegar Drive in south Edmonton on Thursday, August 24, 2023. Global News

The company is working on the upgrades to Terwillegar Drive in southwest Edmonton, which has been ongoing since 2021.

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The middle section of the expressway expansion is mostly complete, and the north section at Whitemud Drive is underway.

The 2024 provincial budget has put another $124 million towards the Terwillegar work over the next three years, where the bulk of the new work will be focused on the interchange with Anthony Henday Drive.

“It intersects what is arguably the busiest trade corridor in Alberta, so improvements to this interchange were very badly needed,” said Tim Cartmell, the city councillor for the area.

He has been championing the project from the get-go and said finishing the job will benefit the approximately 65,000 people who live in that part of southwest Edmonton.

“Sometime between now and hopefully early 2026, perhaps even late 2025, we’re going to see the Terwillegar Drive project be extended all the way into Windermere Boulevard,” Cartmell said.

Other projects being built this year

A fiery crash is seen on Highway 881 between Lac La Biche and Conklin on May 4, 2016. Erin Chalmers/ Global News

The budget includes $97 million to continue adding climbing and passing lanes to Highway 881 in northeastern Alberta.

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The route is a heavy load corridor between Lac La Biche County and the hamlet of Anzac, Alta., with many oil and gas operations along the winding, single-lane highway. It’s the only other route to get to Fort McMurray besides Highway 63.

Work to improve the road began in 2020. Until 2006, Highway 881 was a two-lane gravel road with narrow shoulders. Some sections still have narrow shoulders that become congested with high volumes of heavy and over-sized loads.

The Edmonton ring road interchange and Highway 881 upgrades are just a few of the major projects receiving funding this year. Others include:

  • Highway 3 twinning from Taber to Burdett in southeast Alberta
  • Highway 11 twinning from Sylvan Lake to Rocky Mountain House in west-central Alberta
  • The Highway 22/1A interchange at Cochrane near Calgary
  • Highway 40 Twinning, south of Grande Prairie in northwest Alberta
  • Highway 201 Bow River Bridge on southeast Stoney Trail in Calgary
  • Deerfoot Trail upgrades in Calgary

Planning funding for future projects

CN train crossing Highway 60 on Friday, January 18, 2019. Tom Vernon/Global News

The budget this year also includes $151.2 million over three years for 56 engineering projects, with $100 million in new funding over three years for 36 engineering projects to address future infrastructure needs such as:

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  • Highway 60 capital improvements to add an overpass at the CN Rail mainline crossing at Acheson in Parkland County
  • Highway 40 grade widening between Hinton and Grande Cache in western Alberta
  • New intersection/alignment at Highway 16A and Range Road 20 in Parkland County, where area residents have pushed for changes after several fatal collisions
  • Highway 2 Balzac interchange replacement
  • Highway 63 twinning, north of Fort McMurray
  • Vinca Bridge replacement

Once the engineering is done, Dreeshen said the province will be able to to put more of those projects into the capital plan.

Both the Highway 60 rail overpass and Range Road 20 intersection change in Parkland County were announced in the previous budget.

Click to play video: 'Alberta government changing deadly Highway 16A intersection west of Edmonton'
Alberta government changing deadly Highway 16A intersection west of Edmonton

The Vinca Bridge across the North Saskatchewan River near Fort Saskatchewan is the province’s preferred crossing over the river for over-sized or over-weight loads heading to northern Alberta.

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However, the current bridge was built in 1967 and can’t handle large and heavy loads.

The province said the bridge needs to be replaced anyways, and upgrading it to a higher capacity at the same time will save heavily loaded trucks more than 200 km of travel.

Currently, big loads travel further east to cross the Brosseau Bridge on Highway 36 in Two Hills County.

“This project is critical to many of the large hydrogen and carbon capture projects that are coming online in the Edmonton region,” said Mustafa Sahin, executive vice-president of Edmonton Global.

An undated photo of the Vinca Bridge across the North Saskatchewan River. Credit: Alberta Transportation

Right now, about 1,500 vehicles cross the Highway 38 bridge every day and about 24 per cent of that traffic is large trucks, the province said.

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“The new bridge will save time and money for those travelling in the area, and will support heavy loads from the Edmonton region to major industrial regions and to the north,” Sahin said.

The minister said the mild winter has helped some projects stay on time and on budget, as there has been less of a need for things like heating concrete during pours.

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