$1B Yellowhead Trail upgrade details to be announced Friday

Intersection of Yellowhead Trail and 149 Street in Edmonton, July 10, 2013. Vinesh Pratap, Global News

The plan to give one of Edmonton’s most crucial traffic corridors a facelift is coming much sooner than expected.

Formal confirmation of the upgrading of Yellowhead Trail to a full free-flow freeway is expected to be made Friday morning in west Edmonton. The news was originally thought to come out some time in 2017.

An agenda item on Tuesday’s council meeting was slated to be postponed until the new year, but now multiple sources confirm to 630 CHED that the announcement involving both federal Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi and provincial Infrastructure Minister Brian Mason will be made at the All Weather Windows factory near 184 Street and the Yellowhead.

READ MORE: Edmonton’s west LRT line, Yellowhead Trail could both receive federal funding

Counillor Tony Caterina asked why the report was being put off until next year and was told by the administration that not everything was ready for the next stage.

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Officially, all Sohi’s press secretary would say in an email about the minister being here for an announcement Friday is “stay tuned.”

Watch Below: Every year, emergency crews respond to nearly 1,000 collisions on Edmonton’s Yellowhead Trail. With traffic on the already busy road set to double over the next 30 years, the city says now is the time to make long-needed improvements. Tom Vernon filed this report in September 2016 on what’s being proposed.

Click to play video: 'Edmonton pushes for Yellowhead Trail overhaul to get rolling'
Edmonton pushes for Yellowhead Trail overhaul to get rolling

The Yellowhead Trail Freeway Plan, presented to city council in May, said the project would create 6,000 jobs, generating over $500 million in wages and more than $100 million in taxes. It estimates travel time savings of $25 million in today’s terms, “increasing to $75 million in 30 years.”

Collision cost reductions would range from $10 million to $15 million.

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READ MORE: Notley government says yes to Yellowhead makeover, feds to review project

Currently the Yellowhead sees 63,000 to 81,000 vehicles per day, with twenty per cent of those being trucks. Those numbers are expected to grow to 87,000 to 155,000 vehicles per day in thirty years. Recent completion of the city’s ring road won’t help. “Anthony Henday Drive is not expected to take traffic off Yellowhead,” the report said.

Work has already begun in preparation for the official go ahead. Preliminary engineering is underway for the 25 kilometre stretch and land is being expropriated.

Eight intersections with signals, and more than a dozen other intersections and access points, would be eliminated, according to plan.

READ MORE: Edmonton mayor meets with local businesses to discuss potential revamp of Yellowhead Trail

The City of Edmonton applied to the Building Canada Fund through the federal government to help pay for the upgrades. That became a priority for the federal Liberals, however provincially the NDP had to get creative to fund its share.

On Nov. 1, Mason announced the province would provide $242 million toward the project — which is one-third of the cost — starting in 2023.

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