The twinning of a busy stretch of road in southwest Edmonton was approved unanimously at city council Thursday afternoon.
Rabbit Hill Road from Terwillegar Boulevard/MacTaggart Drive to Anthony Henday Drive will see second lanes added in each direction, although work won’t begin for another two years. The 1.6-kilometre stretch is the only section of the road that isn’t twinned.
The road is four lanes to the south where it crosses over Anthony Henday Drive, and four lanes to the north at 23 Avenue, and bottlenecks in between.
The latest traffic count numbers from 2015 show 22,500 vehicles a day on this section, up from 14,500 in 2013. The city standard for twinning is 20,000 vehicles a day, so a second lane has been needed for years.
A simple left turn during rush hour can back up the entire stretch and create dangerous situations.
At the Mullen Way/South Terwillegar Drive intersection, it’s not uncommon to see vehicles passing illegally (by swerving into a right-turn lane) because of a vehicle ahead waiting to turn left into the adjacent shopping complex and McTaggart neighbourhood.
Twinning the road will solve that safety issue and reduce congestion.
Bryan Anderson, city councillor for the area, has been pushing for the project for some time now. Earlier this year the Ward 9 councillor estimated that in the past decade, 70 per cent of new housing starts have been in south Edmonton.
While other traffic improvements are also needed in the growing southwest, Anderson has been pushing for the Rabbit Hill Road twinning because it’s an easy win: the upgrades come at a relatively small cost and will have an immediate positive impact.
The twinning cost is estimated to be $4.5 million. Construction is expected to start in 2018.
While passing the capital budget, city council also approved construction of ramps at 135 Street (Heritage Valley Trail) at Anthony Henday Drive.
The interchange project will replace the existing 127 Street south access to the Henday, which the city said does not provide adequate access to the Henday and faces closure by the province.
City council will wrap up the 2017 budget update on Friday. City councillors are striving to lower the property tax hike to somewhere below three per cent, instead of the 3.1 per cent they are currently at. That’s based on 1.5 per cent for a dedicated neighborhood renewal program, 0.6 per cent for a fund for the Valley Line LRT, and one per cent for the rest of city operations.