A interchange on the QEII to support commercial and cargo growth at the Edmonton International Airport and ease congestion on existing roads has moved one step forward.
The province will fund $33 million of the estimated $70 to $80 million needed to build the interchange connecting Leduc’s 65 Avenue with the EIA’s Perimeter Road, Premier Rachel Notley confirmed on Friday.
The interchange is expected to help reduce traffic entering the QEII at both Highway 39 and Airport Road when it is completed in about five years from now.
The project will include a new bridge over the QEII, adjacent to the existing 50 Street flyover bridge in Leduc. Two new off-ramps — one heading towards the airport, another to 65 Avenue on the south side of the airport — will be built. An on-ramp for southbound Highway 2 traffic will also be part of the project.
The project will complete the four-lane Perimeter Road around the east runway. Intersection improvements at 65 Avenue and 50 Street in Leduc will also be part of the work.
“The interchange will provide additional access points to the airport and the surrounding lands,” Leduc Mayor Bob Young said. “It will also help expand logistical and transportation networks for new and existing businesses.”
The new interchange will provide greater access to the QEII for life-saving services like Alberta Health Services and STARS air ambulance.
WATCH BELOW: Lorraine Mansbridge was live on location at the Stars air ambulance hangar at the Edmonton International Airport.
It will also benefit the many companies and agencies that have sprung up along the south side of the airport, including the Canadian Border Services Agency office, and cargo and shipment services like CargoJet, DHL and Rosenau Transport.
“This new interchange will provide our trucks with improved access to major roadways,” Rosenau Transport Ltd president Ken Rosenau said. “As a result, the goods we haul can be delivered to our customers and the marketplace more efficiently.”
The new overpass will help ease congestion at the Airport Road overpass. Upgrades have been carried out there recently, to accommodate the increase in traffic due in part to the opening of the new Costco and the Premium Outlet Collection mall.
On average, more than 54,000 vehicles drive the stretch of Highway 2 adjacent to the airport every day, the province said.
It’s expected the project will create jobs for about 8,300 people: 4,000 new construction jobs and 4,300 permanent, multi-sector jobs. The 65 Avenue interchange is expected to generate $600 million in investment growth.
“On a larger scale, this interchange is just one critical piece of a much larger national trade corridor that includes the Nisku Spine Road,” Young said. “We will continue to work with our partners, Leduc County, to ensure we get this trade corridor completed.”
News of the interchange comes one day after the airport announced 2018 was a record-setting year, with more than 8.2 million passengers passing through the airport, as well as a big increase in commercial and cargo services at the airport.
The airport said the interchange will keep the momentum going.
“Increasing access to and from EIA enables the continued positive trajectory of our strong record of economic development and job creation and solidifies our position as a global trading centre,” EIA president and CEO Tom Ruth said.
The airport said there has been more than $750 million in private investment in the last three years, developing more than 2,800 hectares (7,000 acres) of land — the largest at any airport in Canada.
The project has been in the planning stage for a few years. In 2017, the province, City of Leduc and the EIA each put in $1.2 million towards for design work on the interchange.
Exactly when the interchange will be complete is not yet known. Design work is expected to be complete this year. After that, land will need to be acquired. Construction is slated to begin in 2021, with the interchange tentatively set to open in 2024.
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