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Construction on long-awaited Highway 3 twinning confirmed to begin this year

In its bid to improve Alberta’s roadways, bridges and water infrastructure, the provincial government has set aside $8.1 billion for its three-year capital plan, including funding for the long-awaited Highway 3 twinning project.

During a funding announcement Thursday, Premier Danielle Smith said transportation networks and economic corridors must expand to keep up with Alberta’s booming population.

It’s why the province has included $1.9 billion in its budget to go toward major highway and bridge projects.

“The result will be faster, safer travel for families and extra capacity for businesses so that they can be as ambitious as they want,” Smith said.

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

Of the transportation funding, $170 million will go toward twinning Highway 3, said Minister of Transportation and Economic Corridors Devin Dreeshen.

He said that the tender for the project has been accepted. That means that, after many delays, major construction on the first 46-kilometre stretch of the highway is confirmed to actually begin this year.

“I know there are some in this room that maybe thought politicians would just talk about the twinning of Highway 3 and it would never actually get accomplished,” Dreeshen said at a press conference in Medicine Hat.

“We’ll actually see construction happening this year, which will be fantastic, and then hopefully be completed next year between Taber and Burdett.”

Highway 3 Alberta
After many delays, the province has confirmed that major construction to twin Highway 3 — first, between Taber and Burdett — will begin this year. (Google Maps)

The provincial budget also includes funding for engineering work to twin the remaining 169 kilometres between Medicine Hat and the British Columbia boundary. The other seven sections are in various stages of design and planning, said Dreeshen.

In an interview with CBC News, Bill Chapman, president of the Highway 3 Twinning Development Association, said he commends the province for following through with its commitment.

That association has been advocating for the project to move forward for about two decades.

“We’re pleased with the direction that the government of Alberta is taking, and the ministry of transportation. This is predictable funding and also logical funding so that the next stages will be covered accordingly and without having to wait for funding needs,” said Chapman.

The provincial budget also proposes $1.7 billion over three years to maintain and renew existing roads and bridges, as well as a $30 million increase to improve local transportation infrastructure through the Strategic Transportation Infrastructure Program.

It also includes $312 million to build and repair water management infrastructure, and $125 million for water and wastewater infrastructure programs as Alberta braces for another year of drought.

Real Durant, vice chair of the Alberta Motor Transport Association, a group that represents truckers in the province, said he’s grateful for the funding, considering its members spend so much time on the roads.

He said the twinning of Highway 3 and Highway 11, plus road improvements on Highway 881, “will make not only our jobs safer and more efficient, but also the travel of Albertans and visitors alike.”

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