Concerns raised over provincial funding for Edmonton's Terwillegar expressway

March 7: The City of Edmonton asked and the province answered. The Alberta government has committed $90 million for a number of projects in the provincial capital, including the Terwillegar Expressway.

Last week’s confirmation the southwest portion of the Anthony Henday Drive widening will indeed begin this fall is welcome news to Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson.

Work to expand the 18-kilometre stretch between Calgary Trail and Whitemud Drive from two lanes to three in each direction will take three years to complete, by fall 2022.

Southwest Anthony Henday Drive widening construction to begin this fall

However, another key project in southwest Edmonton is now not as certain as it was a few months ago.

Iveson, in reacting to the Henday announcement, wasn’t as confident the move to convert Terwillegar Drive into an expressway will go ahead as hoped.

$1.2B price tag means freeway unlikely for Terwillegar Drive

“(The two projects) will be complementary, however we’ve got to wait and see what actually happens to our infrastructure transfers from the province before we can go ahead and procure the Terwillegar work,” he told Global News.

“If there’s any adjustments to those in the budget, that will affect our ability to move ahead in a timely fashion with the Terwillegar upgrades.

“This uncertainty around the provincial budget does have cascading impacts,” the mayor said.

Plans in the works to convert Terwillegar Drive to freeway

Edmonton had acquired $24.6 million in provincial funding on March 7 from the previous government through the Alberta Community Transit Fund. The money is to create dedicated bus lanes on Terwillegar Drive, purchase up to nine electric buses and do the planning work for a facility to store the electric fleet.

“The blue-ribbon panel, frankly, has thrown a little more cold water onto that uncertainty or fire to it — pick your metaphor,” Iveson said.

“It’s tough for us to plan, so we all look forward to budget and the certainty that will come with it so that we can move ahead with these infrastructure investments that shared constituents depend on.”

The provincial budget is planned for late October.

“The assumption that we’re working on still is what’s in the platform, which is the infrastructure commitments that were in place under the previous government will be honoured, including Bill 32, the City Charter fiscal framework, which our budgets are based on.”

City report picks LRT expansion over improving Terwillegar Drive to handle growth

“Unless the province intends to back away from that platform commitment, we’re still taking that to the bank, as it were, in our budgets,” Iveson confirmed.

“Obviously if that changes, that will have wide-spread implications for our infrastructure program and projects that people have been waiting for for a long time, like the Terwillegar.”

The city is now reviewing the concept plan for Stage 1 of converting Terwillegar Drive, between Anthony Henday Drive and Whitemud Drive, to an expressway. Construction is anticipated to begin in the spring of 2020 or 2021.

Stage 1 upgrades anticipate widening Terwillegar Drive to four lanes in each direction, three lanes for motor vehicles and a dedicated transit lane. There would also be intersection improvements and a shared-use path on the east side.

The city is holding an open house to update the proposed plan on Wednesday, Sept. 18 at St. Thomas More Parish at 210 Haddow Close, between 4 and 8 p.m.

Watch below (Feb. 25, 2018): Ward 9 Councillor Tim Cartmell speaks about his motion to city council on Tuesday centred around the Terwillegar corridor.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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