Cochrane’s community leaders are cheering plans for a new interchange at the intersection of Highway 1A and Highway 22, which was granted funding in the NDP’s 2017 budget.
It’s expected to reduce congestion, improve commute times and create jobs. The cost is estimated at between $40 million and $50 million, according to a government web page.
“Our businesses are going to find real easy accessibility for people who want to come off the highway to come in here to shop,” Cochrane Chamber of Commerce president Bill Popplewell told Global News. “The tourism will grow.”
Twinning of Highway 1A under a twinned Highway 22 bridge, construction of a twinned Highway 22 bridge over the CPR mainline, access ramps to both highways and Highway 1A bridges over Big Hill Creek are planned as part of the project, Alberta Transportation Minister Brian Mason said at an announcement in Cochrane Friday.
“The intersection of the 1A and 22 highways is a critical transportation hub to locals and travellers alike,” Banff-Cochrane MLA Cameron Westhead said in a statement. “Its proximity to world-class tourism destinations and natural resources requires a safe and efficient transportation corridor for all.”
The province says an engineering consultant will be chosen by summer 2017 and construction could start as early as fall 2019.
Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Brian Mason’s press secretary acknowledged there would be delays in the immediate future, as with any construction project.
“Our planners and engineers, as well as the Town of Cochrane’s, will work diligently to minimize any impact,” Aileen Machell wrote in an email to Global News. “Every effort will be made to minimize disruptions and congestion, while at the same time ensuring the safety of all road users in and around Cochrane.”
Once the design process is finished, the government will provide a more detailed timeline, suggesting Friday such a project would take about two years to complete.
“I am incredibly happy for our community and thankful to the provincial government for acknowledging this very critical piece of infrastructure and moving it forward for the betterment of our region,” Cochrane Mayor Ivan Brooker said in the statement.
With files from Gary Bobrovitz