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Driver safety driving force in Highway 40 twinning push: municipalities

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The Municipal District of Greenview and County of Grande Prairie have agreed to share half of the total cost of the Highway 40 twinning project south of Grande Prairie.

The MD unanimously approved up to a total of 50 per cent of the project costs for the twinning of Highway 40 for approximately 20 kilometres up to and including the intersection of Township Road 700. The funding will be split into two payments, each from its road infrastructure reserves in 2020 and in 2021.

“We’re not looking at it as a cost split,” says MD of Greenview Reeve Dale Smith. “We are viewing it as a complete project. We’re not trying to get down to the nickel and dime aspect of it.”

While it’s not clear at this point what the percentage, or total dollar value, the County of Grande Prairie will be responsible for, it will reduce whatever the MD of Greenview will have to pay. The Province of Alberta has also pledged to pay for half of the project, which does not currently have a price tag but is noted to be similar to others that cost $100 to $120 million.

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Construction costs were not the only thing agreed upon as vital by decision-makers in both the County and MD. The safety of drivers in and out of heavy industry has been an ongoing, long-term concern.

Smith says statistics from the Grovedale Fire Department paint a bleak picture of the state of the current roadway. The fire hall reportedly receives more than 270 scene calls annually for their section of Highway 40, which is more than municipalities like Valleyview and Fox Creek. Smith says making the roads safer for everyone can have a trickledown effect.

“They’re all working men and women out there, and they’ve had to respond to some fairly nasty sights and it’s trying on those workers,” he says.

County of Grande Prairie Reeve Beaupre says when she was elected 15 years ago, she was told the road infrastructure in place would likely last 60 or 70 years. However, as time went on, the need for a safer, wider road has become more glaringly obvious to her.

“The children that come to school and go back out there, the ski hill that’s there, people who are commuting in those areas, as well as the travelling public we have trying to promote tourism in the area. All of these are synonymous with trying to make sure we have the infrastructure available in this area.”

While the project has not yet been put out for tender, it’s expected work like utility relocation and land clearing can begin as early as summer 2020.

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