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County mulling over Highway 40 twinning contribution

The County of Grande Prairie should decide this summer how much it will contribute to the twinning of Highway 40. It held off on making a call earlier this week, opting instead to discuss it further on June 18th.

The Government of Alberta revealed in February that the project will move forward thanks to a cost-sharing agreement with the County and the Municipal District of Greenview. Loose estimates have placed the overall cost between $100 and $120 million.

County councillors have been presented with three potential funding amounts – $10 million, $6 million, and $3 million – and options to pay in one lump sum or three equal payments over 2020 to 2022. Council would also have to decide between a five or 10 year loan from a financial institution, self-financing from its Surfaced Road Rehabilitation reserve at two per cent over five or 10 years, or simply funding from the reserve.

The MD of Greenview has approved covering up to 50 per cent of the cost of the project, with no more than $60 million coming from its road infrastructure reserves. $30 million will be paid in 2020 and $30 million in 2021, and any funding from the County will be deducted from that.

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The work includes the twinning of 19 kilometres from the city of Grande Prairie to just south of the Norbord plant. It also includes 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.

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. The relocation of utilities and land clearing could begin this summer.

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