Alberta government investing in Highway 60 rail line overpass in Acheson

NDP announces twinning of Highway 60, overpass near Acheson
WATCH ABOVE: For people who work in Acheson, getting stuck at a long train is almost a daily ritual. As Tom Vernon reports, Alberta is promising to solve the problem.

The Alberta government is taking the first steps to twin Highway 60 between highways 16 and 16A, and building an overpass to cross the CN mainline along the busy route.

About 15,000 vehicles use that stretch of highway through the Acheson Industrial Park every day, and upwards of 50 trains cross the highway on a daily basis.

“It’s very, very important for the growth and development of this particular industrial sector,” Premier Rachel Notley said while making the announcement in Acheson on Friday.

“It’s going to take a while to assemble the land, and so it’s important to formally make the announcement so that work could begin.”

That land acquisition will take some time. Construction isn’t expected to begin until 2021 and will take two to three years to complete.

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The project hasn’t gone to tender yet, but the government expects the price to be anywhere from $85 million to $105 million.

For the county, this announcement is a long time coming.

“The council back in 1989 started advocating for this overpass,” said Parkland County Mayor Rod Shaigec.

Shaigec has been pushing for this project as a way to help reduce the impact of coal power being phased out. That industry is a major employer in the area.

READ MORE: Parkland County cuts operating budget by $4M, blames Alberta coal phase-out plan for fiscal pressures

Shaigec believes improving the traffic flow will give companies an added reason to invest in the region.

“This will allow Parkland County to attract additional businesses, and better serve the businesses that are currently located in the Acheson Business Park.”

Strongco is a business that moved into Acheson in 2012.

“The traffic can back up from pretty much one highway to the other at busy times of the day,” said Terry Janzen, Strongco’s branch manager.

Strongco deals with heavy construction equipment, and has a team of technicians on the road to make mobile repairs.

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“When I’m paying technicians a fairly high rate to sit at a train, it’s very unnerving.”