The province announced details Thursday of a plan to twin the current Highway 15 bridge in Fort Saskatchewan by building a second bridge alongside it.
The project, first announced in last week’s provincial budget, will cost $200 to $300 million.
The twinning project will see the current two-lane bridge with one lane in each direction turned into a pair of bridges with traffic flowing one way on each bridge.
The bridge and road are part of a busy commuter route, and the expansion of the single-lane bridge is needed to improve safety and alleviate congestion.
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Big traffic snarls have been known to happen when accidents cause delays or closures on the bridge.
“For over 20 years, there have been petitions, there have been cry outs. Every time there is an accident, I talked to our fire department because they have been extraditing people from their cars because of slippery conditions or the traffic has backed up,” said Fort Saskatchewan Mayor Gale Katchur.
Katchur said there is often “a great deal of stress” for residents travelling on the bridge who have to endure tie-ups and crashes.
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Transportation Minister Brian Mason said engineering work will begin immediately on the project.
“What we’re concentrating on right now is getting the new bridge completed as quickly as possible and then we can address the plans for handling the traffic as we do work on the old bridge,” he said.
“I think there is a considerable amount of work that needs to take place. But clearly having a second bridge in place and having four lanes allows the work to proceed on the old bridge, which would have been extremely difficult if we didn’t have another route.”
The province expects to start construction in 2019 and said it will take three years to complete.