Access to and from Anthony Henday Drive at 127 Street in south Edmonton will be permanently closed to traffic.
The province announced Tuesday that the interchange will close on Nov. 12 at 10 p.m.
“The current configuration in and out, onto the southwest Edmonton ring road wasn’t really safe,” Transportation Minister Brian Mason said Tuesday.
The interchange was built more than a decade ago, when that particular section of the Henday had intersections with signals, which slowed down traffic.
“These intersections have been upgraded to interchanges and various road improvement projects in the area are complete, so it is time to close the intersection to ensure the safe flow of high-speed traffic on the highway,” the province said in a release Tuesday.
Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson said closing the access point will make the “major capacity challenges” in the southwest even worse.
“If we can delay it and look at some alternatives and try to at least give people in those neighbourhoods a sense of what’s coming to make things better, because it is very congested there,” Iveson told 630 CHED.
Area councillor Bryan Anderson has heard concerns from his constituents about the traffic bog downs in the southwest and said something has to be done to alleviate the congestion.
“It’s all about money. Who’s going to come up with the dollars? I think that we need to do a sell job,” he said. “Do you know what the bottom line is? You know what the problem is? Inadequate amount and number and accessible north/south roads in southwest and southeast Edmonton.
“When there is an issue – like the closure of 111 Street last Thursday, creating a situation where the traffic on Terwillegar Drive went from Whitemud Freeway all the way to the shopping centre in Ambleside until 7:30 p.m. – it was just bumper-to-bumper, moving at five km/h simply because of one incident.”
Mason said it has “always been in the plan” to close the interchange.
“The Henday is a free-flow road and city council was aware of that. They were informed by their city manager on Oct. 6, so it should be no surprise to Edmonton City Council. This was always in the plan and was agreed to by the city.”
People who live in the area will still have access to 127 Street from Ellerslie Road.
Drivers can still access the southwest portion of the Henday from Rabbit Hill Road, 111 Street and Highway 2.
With files from Scott Johnston, 630 CHED.