Premier Rachel Notley and Minister of Transportation Brian Mason, announced $100 million in funding for local infrastructure projects involving the intersection of Gaetz Avenue and the Queen Elizabeth II Highway (QEII) in Red Deer Tuesday morning.
According to Notley, the project will consist of a complete overhaul of the existing interchange and will provide separate roadways for high-speed highway traffic and lower-speed local traffic.
“We have work to do to make sure this highway corridor continues to serve this region, and quite frankly, all of Alberta, today and into the future,” Notley said during the press conference held at the Red Deer Civic Yards.
“Right here is where we will begin, by investing 100 million dollars over the next three years to build a brand-new interchange at Gaetz Avenue and the QEII. With five new bridges and additional collector and highway access lanes, this will vastly improve ease of travel along this entire section of the highway.”
Mayor Tara Veer said this project has long been awaited by the City, and that it causes significant concern to the safety of motorists travelling along this section of the corridor.
“By resolving what is now known as an infamous traffic weave between high speed QEII traffic, and lower speed local traffic, this interchange is an investment in public safety for all motorists in our region and province,” Veer said.
“It also lays the foundation for future public safety and movement in transportation initiatives in the southeast sector of one of Alberta’s fastest growing cities.”
Both Notley and Veer said the timing of the project is crucial to the success of the 2019 Canada Winter Games, and that the project would be complete before the Games. Veer said as the host community of the Games, Red Deer was more quickly able to secure the funding for this project.
Notley said the three year construction process would provide hundreds of jobs for Albertans, and that it is a vital section of the highway to the provincial economy, as it provides necessary transfer of goods and services to Albertans from the Red Deer region.
Other Alberta highway infrastructure projects named in the capital plan budget include a comprehensive study of the QEII Hwy. capacity and lane additions along the corridor.
“This is a provincial project, recognizing that it is along the QEII corridor and is on the way between municipalities. City of Red Deer staff have been in long-standing discussions with Alberta Transportation to look at this project from the perspective of all affected stakeholders,” Veer said.
“Our staff has been highly involved in terms of consultation and design work to ensure the interests of Red Deer are protected in this interchange.”
Veer said the City is thrilled to see this project underway but are disappointed to see a lack of funding for crucial infrastructure development in the Red Deer Regional Hospital and Red Deer courthouse.
“When we were watching the provincial budget, there were some key infrastructure projects we were watching for – this interchange is one of them, and we’re grateful for that funding. However, we were disappointed that there was not a specific funding allocation above and beyond the obstetrics expansion at Red Deer Regional Hospital, knowing that it is at capacity,” she said.
“We will be having subsequent conversations with the government. Also, with respect to the courthouse, we recognize the lack of funding allocation in the capital plan, however we acknowledge that courthouse renewal is at least on the radar for the provincial government. We feel hopeful that we will have more formal discussions in coming weeks and see the courthouse in a subsequent budget.”