A new economic impact study shows twinning the first 19-kilometres of Highway 40 south of Grande Prairie could generate as much as $483.7 million in economic benefit for the area.
Social benefit is calculated using several factors, including the potential elimination of delays felt by local business owners with heavy use of ground transportation, as well as the prospect of more development in the upgraded area.
In December 2018, the former NDP government announced plans to start twinning the highway with construction set to start in 2022. However, progress on that project has not been made public and no start date has been announced since the United Conservative Party formed government.
County Reeve Leanne Beaupre remains hopeful that the project is still in the realm of discussions, and is pushing for a fast track on construction.
“The report itself has some timelines attached to it that transportation from the regional office have given us, but we certainly hope some of those timelines can be accelerated.”
Beaupre adds she isn’t surprised that such a high net benefit has been projected, and believes the area remains the beating heart of industry across Alberta.
“If you look at pure economics, this area is the economic engine of the Province of Alberta just with the sheer amount of traffic that travels those roads daily,” she argues. “Having engaged industry in this study so they can show us how many hours of delays and the safety aspects of it, it is glaringly obvious that it is time to invest that money in the highway.”
The study, conducted by Nichols Applied Management Inc., states that the net benefit is stretched over 30 years, from 2022 to 2052. The study was commissioned by the County of Grande Prairie.