2 major Lethbridge highways to start construction in 2017
Lethbridge City Council voted to advance the twinning and construction of two major highways by five years.
Growth in the west side of the city is creating pressure to start the twinning of Whoop-Up Drive and the completion of sections of Métis Trail in 2017 before the original start time of 2022.
The new work will see Whoop-Up Drive expanded from two lanes to four lanes between McMaster Boulevard to 30 Street West, as well as the completion of the first two lanes of Métis Trail between Walsh Drive and Whoop-Up Drive West.
Urban construction manager Byron Buzunis says some of the economic drives are low interests rates, community demand and ongoing development in Copper Wood. The combined cost of the projects will be about $20 million.
“The construction industry is fairly slow, so contractors are bidding lower than they normally would during a boom period when they are busy,” Buzunis said. “By bringing the project forward in time, we avoid a lot of inflationary cost that could occur over time.”
Whoop-Up twinning will provide better traffic flow anticipated from the completion of the new Leisure Complex, a new elementary school and the Crossings commercial development, according to the city. Officials said it will also accommodate continued growth in the Copperwood and Crossing communities.
Métis Trail completion will reduce fire and EMS response times to Country Meadows and Garry Station, allow more access to new subdivisions, reduce traffic in Indian Battle Heights and improve overall traffic flow, according to the city.
The city will use a funding strategy for the project that includes using internal reserves. The city says the strategies won’t impact tax rates or other city projects.
There was some opposition from councillor Joe Mauro, who said other projects also need to be done and these ones should stick to the original schedule, but the mayor said these are a priority.
“These are the largest pressure points currently in the city, so council is trying to address that,” Mayor Chris Spearman said. “The alternative would be not to have addressed it and wait until 2022 and the problems are just compounding year after year, so council is getting ahead of this.”
The city will be asking for proposal requests this fall and construction will begin in 2017. The city’s hope is both of these projects will be completed within the same year.
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