Come Saturday, drivers in the Capital Region will, for the first time, be able to drive the full 80 kilometres of Anthony Henday Drive.
The final six kilometres of the Edmonton ring road that have never been open to traffic will open in the city’s northeast Saturday afternoon between 2 p.m and 3 p.m.
“We’ll have everything ready to go and when the road’s clear and ready we’ll basically pull back the barricades,” Bill Van der Meer, project manager of the Edmonton ring road with Alberta Transportation, said Friday.
“We’ll have traffic people at all those interchanges and they’ll basically open them. So that’ll happen fairly quickly.”
Van der Meer said all of the interchanges, on-ramps, off-ramps and overpasses will be totally open to vehicles.
“The speed on the Anthony Henday all the way around is going to be 100 kilometres an hour for the full 80 kilometres around the ring road.”
Craig Baikie is a salesperson who drives a lot for work and said the opening of the Henday should cut his daily commute by about 20 minutes.
“Forty-five minutes to work normally, or an hour depending what’s happening with the Beverly Bridge construction, but with the Henday opening it’s going to be great,” he said.
“The Yellowhead’s a disaster, you’ve got other roads that are unbearable with construction, so if we can have the ring road that actually opens up, we can drive on it, get places… it makes my life a lot easier.”
There is still some work to be done on the side of the roadway, including topsoiling and landscaping. There is also some work under the bridges that will continue. Van der Meer said the remaining work could lead to some speed limitations.
“There might be a few areas where we have speed reduction because of people working, but basically we’re open and there is no further road paving or road work left,” he explained. “It’ll be, I’m going to say, minor inconveniences.”
The $1.8-billion project started four-and-a-half years ago and has remained on time and on budget, which is a huge relief to Alberta Transportation.
“We’ve been working on it hard for four-and-a-half years,” Van der Meer said. “Contractor, everyone, going all out. Right from the beginning we knew four-and-a-half years was tight and so it’s not like going hard for the past year. It’s been going hard for the whole time.
“To get that much work done in four-and-a-half years is very fast.”
The northeast section of the Henday accounts for nearly half of the more than $4 billion spent to build the Edmonton ring road.