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City of Edmonton begins work on Yellowhead Trail project

This intersection, Yellowhead Trail and 66 Street, will be closed if plans for the conversion to a freeway move ahead.
This intersection, Yellowhead Trail and 66 Street, will be closed if plans for the conversion to a freeway move ahead. Sarah Kraus / Global News

Work on the $1-billion upgrade of Edmonton’s Yellowhead Trail has begun, although you probably won’t notice for most of this year.

Everything this construction season will be off the main road that is getting transformed into a free-flow freeway, concentrating instead on the local roads in the Delton business area.

“Most of the construction will take place off the main corridors,” Kris Lima, who’s overseeing the project, told reporters after updating city council’s executive committee on Monday. “That begins today and will extend through to the end of October.”

Everything this year will be done to improve east-west movements off the main road.

“What it is, is trying to improve the movement of trucks,” Lima said. “We anticipate there are a lot of large trucks that move about the area when we close 89 Street.”

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“The work that we’re doing this year is in the Delton business area, between 82 and 97 street[s],” Lima said, adding that the closure of 89 Street will happen at the end of this year’s construction season.

Watch below: Some Global News videos about Yellowhead Trail.

READ MORE: Yellowhead Freeway plans to close 66 Street: ‘It’s going to be absolutely terrible’

That’s what prompted Graham Dyck of Cougar Paint and Collision to come to city hall to lobby for some late design changes. He unsuccessfully asked for a “right in-right out” access point for 89 Street. He also wants to see the service road maintain parking.

The city has said no to both, which is frustrating to Dyck because of the convoluted way his customers will have to reach his location at 88 Street and the Yellowhead.

“Hopefully, it shouldn’t affect anything,” Dyck said. “I don’t want to be the kind of guy who’s got a business card with a map on the back that shows you how to get to your shop.”

Lima said the wide variance of speed makes it impossible to have 89 Street remain open.

“You try to minimize that weaving of traffic in and out of the corridor. There’s not enough room for slowing or accelerating traffic, especially large trucks trying to merge on to a freeway of 80 kilometres per hour when you have a semi-trailer going 30 to 20 km/h.”

READ MORE: Edmonton approves $510M for Yellowhead Trail upgrades

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For Dyck, it’ll mean permanent detours.

“We did a little survey of customers,” he said. “When they come in, we would ask them, ‘Did you use that intersection when you came in?’ And it was something like seven out of 10 [people that] used that intersection. So those seven out of 10 are going to have to find a different way to come in if they want to come into our shop.”

Dyck told the committee he’s having to adjust the message in his ads, telling his customers how to get to his business instead of featuring the business itself.

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