In a media release on Wednesday, March 11, 2020, the provincial government reasserted its resolve in the 2020 budget to focus on maintaining and repairing Alberta’s roads and bridges.
The quick facts were:
- $1.4 billion for the Calgary and Edmonton Ring Roads:
- $1.36 billion for the Calgary Ring Road, including the southwest and west projects and upgrades to five kilometres of the northeast segment
- $67 million for the southwest Anthony Henday Drive expansion
- $66 million for the east and west phases of the Highway 19 twinning project between the QEII and Highway 60
- $10.5 million for the Highway 1A expansion within the Stoney Nakoda First Nation, between Cochrane and Canmore
- $34.5 million for continued work on the Peace River Bridge twinning project
- Funding for the twinning of Highway 40, which is estimated to cost between $100 and $120 million
- $109.9 million is identified for improvements to Deerfoot Trail in Calgary, with $99.7 million in future years.
- Alberta has a vast provincial highway network that includes more than 31,400 kilometres of highways (equivalent to nearly 64,000 lane kilometres) and nearly 4,600 bridges, overpasses, and culverts.
- Almost 28,000 kilometres are paved roads and almost 2,500 kilometres are four- and six-lane divided highways.
Upon perusal, there is no mention of Highway 22 and Highway 1A intersection in Cochrane in the media release. So, the question was put to UCP MLA for Airdrie/Cochrane, Peter Guthrie. His response was, "We are still a go with that, I have spoken to the Transportation Minister on the subject and it is still high up on the list of the projects to go forward."
Guthrie is hopeful that the road projects may even be used to create jobs for Albertans and in turn, may come to fruition sooner than later to stimulate Alberta's economic woes. "We are going to be looking at all sorts of initiatives to employ Albertans, jobs are number one for us. So we are going to be looking at the possibility of moving up transportation projects, infrastructure projects. So we have a lot in the plan right now that we may be looking to initiate some of those projects sooner than later in order to put Albertans back to work."
Opposition Leader Rachel Notley has said that in light of the recent, rapidly changing, and uncertain world events that the UCP should completely scrap its recent budget and start again. Especially, when the NDP believed the UCP's projections were overly optimistic about the price of oil before the latest downturn. They would also argue that the first thing on the chopping block would be capital projects if the money isn't there.
Again, only time will tell and only when the shovels are in the ground can Cochranites be certain that the intersection of Highway 1A and Highway 22 is a go. Then it will be time to contend with and complain about the construction delays.