While the Government of Alberta’s 2020 budget, released Feb. 27, includes funding for Airdrie’s 40 Avenue interchange, it’s not exactly the solution the City was hoping for.
“We’re going to be patient and we’re going to see what the Minister has to say, and then we’ll go from there,” Mayor Peter Brown said.
A “QEII and 40 Avenue Interim Ramp,” as identified in budget documents, will receive a total of $10.1 million over the next two years – $3 million in 2020 and another $7.1 million in 2021. For more than a decade, Brown said, the City has been advocating for an overpass at that interchange – not a temporary ramp.
He admitted he’s unsure what exactly the province has planned with this funding, but said the City will be meeting with the Minister of Transportation on March 11 to discuss the details.
“We’ll be getting more particulars at that time as to the extent of the funding – obviously the bridge, the overpass would be close to $65 million or more, and [$10.1 million is] not going to cover the cost,” Brown said. “So we’re interested to see, when the Minister comes, how those dollars are going to be used and in what capacity.”
A temporary solution could mean an investment of “throwaway dollars,” he said, as the interim ramp may need to be realigned or eliminated to fit the design of the future overpass interchange, but Brown said he didn’t want to speculate before he understands the province’s intentions.
Still, he added, the promise of any funding indicates the government recognizes the need for the interchange.
“The City has done an enormous amount of work as it relates to securing funding. We’ve done detailed designs, we’ve done – as the Minister has stated on several occasions – more than our fair share to secure the funding to get this thing done,” he said.
Additionally, he said, the project was placed in the second position in order of importance on a regional transportation study submitted to Alberta Transportation in May 2019, and residents contributed to raising awareness about the need for the interchange through letters to MLAs and a petition launched that July.
“Both of our off-ramps are currently at capacity,” Brown said. “For me, it’s a number-one issue – obviously, as a safety concern, but it’s also got to do with business attraction and regional significance.”
MLAs Angela Pitt and Peter Guthrie expressed their support for the province’s decision, with Guthrie taking to Twitter to thank the Minister.
With advocation from Mayor Brown & council our UCP gov is pleased provide an interim solution to alleviate traffic issues in Airdrie.MLA Pitt & I are thankful to the Minister McIver for recognizing the magnitude of Airdrie’s traffic issues & finding a result at 40th ave. #airdrie pic.twitter.com/L7jzlbBsO6— Peter Guthrie (@PeterGuthrie99) February 27, 2020
“The funding for the ramp is an important and welcome investment in our city,” Pitt said in a statement. “This funding is the result of collaboration between municipal and provincial governments and the advocacy of our local government representatives.”