Drivers won’t be using the new bypass to get around Grande Prairie this year. Construction on the new Highway 43X bypass was scheduled to wrap up mid-October, but Regional Director for Alberta Transportation Ryan Konowalyk says some of the work will need to be finished next spring.
“We allow variance for weather and that’s kind of where we got pushed,” he explains. “They did get hit with over a month of poor weather this season; August and September were not very kind for construction business work.”
All of the bridges along the route are done along with the roundabout, as well as almost all of the embankments. The base of the road itself is in place, and Konowalyk says most of what will need to be done next year is finishing putting the gravel and asphalt on the rest of the highway.
“And then, of course, paint, rumble strips, and some of the ancillary stuff to finish it up. That’s why we’re pretty optimistic we’ll be done not in the fall of next year but before that.”
The focus right now is on the tie in with Highway 43 west of Grande Prairie. It’s expected the work between Range Road 70 and 71 should be done within the next week.
That intersection will have an off-ramp for traffic heading west from the bypass onto Highway 43 and signals for those heading east. Konowalyk says the eventual plan is to have an interchange there.
“It is actually on our unfunded projects list, which means it’s a priority that we’re working on. It’s not currently in our next couple of years of plans, but it is a priority.”
Konowalyk claims building an interchange at this point would have added $40 million to $50 million to the project, which is currently pegged at $54 million. However, he notes the intersection is being built outside the footprint of the future interchange, so the work being done now won’t be thrown away.
Work on Highway 40 from the Wapiti Bridge to the City of Grande Prairie is also close to wrapping up for the season. Konowalyk says the pavement is basically done with road markings in regular road paint, but durable pavement markings will be added next year. Work on Highway 668 towards Resources Road should also be finished in 2019.