April 19, 2016 1:51 pm

Alberta Budget 2016: NDP spends $7B on roads, hoping to boost economy, jobs

Construction of the new Stoney Trail southeast interchange at Glenmore Trail is set to begin in June,

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The Alberta NDP unveiled more details of its budget Tuesday, specifically where it will spend more than $7 billion on Alberta roads and bridges.

The money will be spent over five years under the Alberta Jobs Plan, which is what the government named its latest budget document.

READ MORE: Winners and losers in Alberta budget 2016 

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The plan includes $100 million for the QE II Highway interchange with Gaetz Avenue in Red Deer. The province says that project is expected to create hundreds of jobs over the next three years. It is scheduled to be done in time for Red Deer to host the 2019 Canada Winter Games.

“Alberta families and businesses deserve safe, modern and efficient roads, highways and bridges,” Premier Rachel Notley said. “In the past when oil prices fell, governments slashed funding for infrastructure. Albertans paid the price for these short-sighted cuts in longer commutes and lost opportunity. We will not repeat those mistakes.”

READ MORE: Highlights of Alberta budget 2016

“With interest rates at historic lows and our economy and families in need of jobs and support, there is no better time to invest for the future,” Minister of Transportation Brian Mason echoed.

Red Deer’s mayor said she was pleased with the government’s decision to move forward with the interchange project. Tara Veer said the investment shows “foresight.”

READ MORE: Reaction pours in to Alberta budget 2016 

Alberta Budget 2016 centres on a $34.8-billion plan to build and upgrade infrastructure. That plan comes at a cost: the budget forecasts almost $58 billion in debt within three years. Finance Minster Joe Ceci confirmed that this year’s deficit will be $10.4 billion and said there is no expectation to balance the books before 2024.

The government’s capital plan also includes funding for:

  • Edmonton’s 41 Avenue interchange ($28 million over five years);
  • Edmonton and Calgary ring roads ($2.9 billion over five years);
  • Grande Prairie’s Highway 43 bypass ($54 million over five years);
  • Twinning Highway 63 from Grassland to Fort McMurray ($83 million over five years);
  • Peace River Bridge ($160 million over five years).

Unfunded capital projects include:

  • New bridge crossing over Bow River in Calgary;
  • Widening both directional lanes of Edmonton’s Whitemud Drive to Highway II from two to three lanes;
  • Highway II interchange at Cardiff Road south of Morinville;
  • Safety and roadway improvements on Highway 881 at various locations.

The three-year provincial construction and rehabilitation program lists the major projects where substantive work is expected to be complete or undertaken between 2016-17 and 2018-19, subject to provincial funding and priorities.

Alberta highway and flood projects 2016-2019

Alberta map of 2016-2019 projects

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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