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Edmonton approves $510M for Yellowhead Trail upgrades

Vehicles are seen travelling on Edmonton's Yellowhead Trail. Sept. 26, 2016. Global News

Edmonton City Council has agreed to pay $510 million towards the $1-billion Yellowhead Trail upgrade project.

Council approved the funding Tuesday. The project will see Yellowhead Trail turned into a freeway, eliminating the stop-and-go flow of traffic along the 25-kilometre stretch of roadway through Edmonton.

Three new interchanges will be built. Upgrades will also be made to two interchanges and Fort Road. Three intersections to the Yellowhead will be closed, including 66 Street, 107 Street and 142 Street.

The provincial and federal governments have each committed just over $240 million, while the city will borrow $510 million. The debt will be paid off through a dedicated tax increase adding up to 1.76 per cent over 10 years.

READ MORE: 1.76% tax increase could be coming to pay for Yellowhead project

Mayor Don Iveson said the project is exciting and long overdue.

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“It will take a lot of consultation and engagement with businesses and residents who will be affected by the construction. It will have to go in phases, it will have to be done in a logical order,” he said. “That’s why good design and good public engagement will help us move through the process.

“But 10 years from now we’ll look back and we will finally have conquered it for the cost a cup of coffee a day for the average citizen in terms of the property tax increase per year over the next 10 years.”

Iveson said it’s too soon to say which funding model the city will use for the project and the P3 funding model (Public – Private Partnerships) isn’t off the table.

“Council will determine that not based on ideology but based on what’s going to deliver the project most cost effectively and most time effectively in terms of minimizing disruption to people,” Iveson said.

“Our new integrated infrastructure management department is designed to help give us that advice and manage these projects more effectively once we’ve determined what the best procurement approach is.”

READ MORE: Feds throw funding towards Edmonton’s Yellowhead Trail project

Construction is expected to begin in 2021.

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