The province is spending almost $200 million on improvements to Highway 40 over the next three years, with some projects in the Grande Prairie region. Minister of Transportation Brian Mason argues the stretch in northwestern Alberta is essential to the communities along it.
“Highway 40, of course, is a beautiful road and provides access to the wonderful tourist and recreation opportunities, but it’s also an important resource road and very important for industry; both Hinton and Grande Prairie are very important economic engines for our province.”
Some of the more northern projects include erosion control for flood prevention on the Kakwa River Bridge, slide repair just north of the bridge, and 55 kilometres of repaving between the Kakwa River and Cutbank River. Also on tap is major girder repairs and painting of the Wapiti Bridge and six kilometres of repaving north of the Wapiti River to the Correction Line.
Alberta Transportation has said the twinning of Highway 40 from the city south to the Wapiti River is on their radar, but it could be four to 10 years out. Mason is also non-committal.
“As resources are available and based on the existing list of priorities that we have throughout the province, those kind of projects are definitely in our minds and something we’re going to look at, but we need to remember that we’re dealing with the province as a whole.”
Based on a freedom of information request, the Wildrose Party found the stretch of Highway 40 from Grande Prairie to the Canfor road was the ninth most dangerous in Alberta with 14 fatal collisions between 2005 to 2014. Mason has thanked local MLAs like West Yellowhead’s Eric Rosendahl for being persistent in promoting these road projects.
Construction on some of the 18 projects has already begun, while it’s expected most of the rest will get underway in the spring of 2018.