Grants could move infrastructure needs ahead

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If the City of Airdrie’s applications for funding from the National Trade Corridor Fund (NTCF) are successful, two important infrastructure projects could be constructed sooner than expected, according to Director of Community Infrastructure Lorne Stevens.

“The Yankee Valley Boulevard grade separation was one of the projects identified. The second was the (Highway 2) and 40 Avenue interchange project,” he said. “Successful projects will receive 50 per cent of the eligible costs associated with the application.”

The NTCF is offered by the Federal Government as part of its Investing in Canada Plan, which addresses long-term infrastructure needs across the country.

It is intended to provide funds to municipalities and provinces for projects that support the transportation of goods and people within Canada, including roads and railways, bridges and airports. The federal government has allocated $2 billion in funding over the next 11 years to the program, including $400 million in 2018.

Stevens said the City had submitted an initial expression of interest in July for two key infrastructure projects and was notified Oct. 6 those applications had made it to the next round of review. Stevens said approximately 200 projects from across Canada have moved on to phase 2.

Stevens said the criteria state the projects must be fully funded at the time of submission. In the case of the Yankee Valley Boulevard grade separation, funding has been allocated in the 2017-18 City of Airdrie Capital Budget. The project involves lowering the roadway to pass under the existing CPR rail line and has a projected cost of $38 million.

Construction of an interchange at 40 Avenue and Highway 2 is more complicated as the highway is under the purview of the Province and discussions are ongoing regarding its construction.

The cost to construct the interchange – identified as a top priority in the City’s Transportation Master Plan – is estimated to be in the range of $64 million.

Stevens asked council to approve submission of the two applications to the NTCF and to write a letter of commitment indicating the City would cover its costs associated with the 40 Avenue interchange – $32 million – if that application was unsuccessful.

Stevens said he – along with Bob Neale, manager of capital projects and Leona Esau, intergovernmental liaison – met with the Deputy Minister of Transportation to discuss the grants.

“We were under no delusions the Province would provide a confirmed source of funding for this. We asked them specifically for letters of support for both of these projects and a willingness to further pursue discussions should we be successful in that regard,” he said.

Stevens said he felt the City had a “high likelihood” of being provided with those letters of support.

“The Province is participating in the detailed design (for the 40 Avenue interchange). They have actually provided funding for a substantial portion of the detailed design,” he said.

“What we have been unable to achieve at this point is a construction commitment for the funding of the Province’s portion (of that construction).”

Submission to NTCF must be made by Nov. 6. Successful applications are expected to be announced in April 2018, according to Stevens.

Council unanimously approved submitting applications for both projects and authorized a letter of commitment for funding the highway interchange if that application is unsuccessful.

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