September 14, 2016 1:35 pm
Updated: September 14, 2016 9:56 pm

‘It’s getting close to full’: Southwest leg of Anthony Henday Drive reaching capacity

WATCH ABOVE: After years of construction and traffic congestion, Edmonton's ring road is near complete. The final leg of Anthony Henday Drive in the northeast is set to open Oct. 1. But congestion on the opposite corner of the city is already driving talk of expansion and as Sarah Kraus reports, even more construction.


Alberta Transportation said the southwest leg of Anthony Henday Drive is reaching capacity but as of right now there are no plans to expand the busy roadway.

The southwest leg of the Edmonton ring road opened in 2006. On a daily basis, the busy stretch sees upwards of 79,000 vehicles.

“It’s getting close to full right now,” Bill Van der Meer, project manager of the Edmonton ring road, said.

Drivers who use the stretch of the Henday have been calling for its expansion for years. During non-peak hours, traffic moves quickly. But if you hit the morning or afternoon rush, it’s a much different story.

Watch below: Southwest leg of Anthony Henday too congested, drivers say (filed in October 2014)

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While expanding the road isn’t in the budget right now, Van der Meer said it is being looked at and the road was built with expansion in mind.

“The whole ring road is set up so that you can add lanes to it relatively easily. All the bridges (overpasses) are long enough to accommodate lanes underneath them. All the ditches, the lighting, the drainage – everything is set up for widening the roads.

“When we reach capacity, if there’s sections that we need to widen when we have the budget, then doing that, it’s basically been made to be widened.”

Van der Meer also talked about the northeast leg of the ring road, which is on schedule to open as planned on Oct. 1.

“We will have an opening of the road on Oct. 1,” he said. “The intent is everything is complete and we’re just working on deficiencies off to the side. Probably topsoil seeding, things like that off to the side and just finishing touches probably for about another month after that opening.

“The plan is everything 100 per cent open. Not partial lanes.”

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

The $1.8-billion project finishes off the last 27 kilometres of the Anthony Henday. Once it opens, motorists will be able to drive around the entire 80-kilometre ring road for the first time.

“When the northeast opens it’s going to be a really high standard,” Van der Meer said. “The whole ring road is a high standard but basically it’s going to complete full freeway standard all the way around with about 30 interchanges. So it’ll be a pretty incredible road.”

READ MORE: Edmonton drivers relieved as northeast Anthony Henday construction nears completion

The northeast section accounts for nearly half of the more than $4 billion spent to build the Edmonton ring road.

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