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Smith says Highway 3 twinning will continue in spring

Posted on March 21, 2024 by Taber Times

By Collin Gallant
Southern Alberta Newspapers

Highway No. 3 twinning remains on pace to begin this spring between Taber and Burdett and so does a promise to move ahead planning to widen the length of the route between Medicine Hat and British Columbia.

Premier Danielle Smith highlighted the project at a news conference outlining the province’s entire construction plan at a highway maintenance shop in Medicine Hat on March 7.

She also pointed to engineering that will proceed to widen another regional route, Highway 41, and said the window is reopening to discuss longer hours at the Port of Wild Horse into Montana with the federal government.

“We have a proposal on the table and now that we’re upgrading roads, I think it strengthens our case,” said Smith, also the MLA for Brooks-Medicine Hat.

The event provided an overview of the capital plan for the entire province, though regional politicians in attendance have made it their first look in the annual provincial budget to check on highway planning and amounts for Highway 3 improvements.

That wasn’t lost on Transportation and Economic Corridors Minister Devin Dreeshen, who highlighted money remains in place for an initial phase this year and money for planning in years out.

“I’m sure there are people in this room that thought politicians would only talk about twinning Highway No. 3 and wouldn’t actually, but the tenders been accepted and we’ll see construction this year and completion next year,” he said.

The proposed 2024-25 provincial capital plan includes $64 million this year for work to add lanes on 46 kilometres between Taber to Burdett, and money in two years out to complete the $170-million project. Ledcor was awarded the current construction contract in late 2023.

Initial work is underway to analyze seven other sections that make up the untwinned portions of the route from Medicine Hat to the B.C. boundary.

Future phases on the eastern end include:

– Burdett to Bow Island, 23 kms;

– Bow Island to Seven Persons, 28 kms;

– Seven Persons to Medicine Hat, 15 kms.

Four phases west of Lethbridge total 103 kilometres around Pincher Creek, Fort Macleod and near the Crowsnest Pass.

Bill Chapman is a Town of Coaldale councillor and head of the Highway 3 Twinning Association that lobbied for the work to proceed.

“The investment is really vital to increase the agri-food investment that we’re seeing in southern Alberta,” said Chapman.

Cypress County Reeve Dan Hamilton said transportation investments on No. 3 and Highway 41 will be beneficial.

“This development marks a big step forward in improving transportation infrastructure within our region and beyond,” said Reeve Dan Hamilton. “Improvements to Highway 41 South hold great importance for Cypress County, as this is a vital route connecting communities, improving commerce and supporting economic growth.”

Cypress-Medicine Hat MLA Justin Wright said Highway No. 3 has had high profile for years, but the route between the TransCanada and the U.S. border needs attention.

“There are a lot of safety concerns on 41, and for me it’s imperative that we get some traction on (improving it),” he said. “Long-term, pie-in-the-sky, I’d like to see it twinned to Bonnyville.”

That would create an alternate north-south corridor aside from the Calgary to Edmonton Route, or Highway 36, which is already a designated high-load corridor.

The province plans to continue planning phase this year toward widening and adding shoulders to No. 41 for a total of 55 kilometres on either side of Elkwater this year. The ministry will also prepare to repave section north of TransCanada, near Highway 41A, east of Medicine Hat. Both projects were announced in the 2023 ministry work plan.

Last summer Smith signed a joint letter with Montana Governor Greg Gianforte asking respective federal authorities to reconsider upgrading hours at the crossing. Montana department of highways announced improvements on Route 232, leading from the border to Havre.

The entire three-year capital plan involves more than $8 billion of work.

“It’s critical that Alberta businesses and industry can get their products to market, across the province, country and the world,” said Smith.

“Albertans need safe and efficient roads, highways and bridges, they need new and upgraded water infrastructure

They need more so they can do more. We’ll provide that and do it in a fiscally responsible manner.”

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