Some construction-related activities surrounding the twinning of Highway 40 south of Grande Prairie could start as early as this summer. The Alberta government says that’s thanks to a cost-sharing agreement reached with the Municipal District of Greenview and the County of Grande Prairie.
The project includes the twinning of 19 kilometres from the city of Grande Prairie to just south of the Norbord plant. The province says having the agreement in place means work like the relocation of utilities and land clearing could begin summer 2020.
Minister of Transportation Ric McIver announced the agreement at the Growing the North Conference at Evergreen Park Thursday. He says it means the twinning has moved from the unfunded list and into the government’s capital plan.
“Our focus in Transportation is on maintaining our existing highways instead of building new ones, but projects like twinning Highway 40 are important for economic development and job creation. We need to think creatively about how to fund projects like this if we want them to move forward quickly, and that’s exactly what we did.”
The details of the agreement have not been revealed. A cost estimate for the project also won’t be available until a contract is awarded, but the government notes one of this nature would typically cost between $100 and $120 million.
In addition to the twinned section, plans also include a second bridge across the Wapiti River with a pedestrian walkway, improvements to bridges and intersections, upgrading existing lighting to LED, and a median vehicle inspection station to help oversee the safety of the commercial trucking industry. MD of Greenview Reeve Dale Smith and County of Grande Prairie Reeve Leanne Beaupre say they see the importance of collaborating on the critical infrastructure.
“Greenview Council is proud to support this shared funding opportunity that will improve the safety of the travelling public along this corridor that helps drive the economy throughout the region,” says Smith.
“Enhancements to Highway 40 are vital to stimulating economic development, including the recently announced Tri-Municipal Industrial Partnership Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of Alberta,” adds Beaupre. “By working together, we can inject dollars into infrastructure upgrades when they’re most needed.”
According to the province, roughly 10,000 vehicles use that part of Highway 40 daily, and traffic has increased by around 70 per cent over the last five years. It also sees double the heavy truck traffic of 30 per cent compared to the provincial average of about 15 per cent.
The twinning was initially announced by the former NDP government in December 2018.