Highway construction season is already underway in Alberta, with nearly $1.4 billion being invested into 300 capital and highway improvement projects, employing 12,000 to do the work.Budget 2022 set aside $789.4 million in this year’s Capital Plan for roads and bridges, and a number of capital projects will be finished this year, including:
Highway 19 twinning, west segment – to be completed in fall 2022;
Highway 15 twinning and new bridge – to be completed in fall 2022; and
Peace River bridge deck replacement project – to be completed in fall 2022.
“We are building and maintaining the important infrastructure that makes Alberta a strong and vibrant place to live, raise a family and grow a business,” says Alberta’s Minister of Transportation Rajan Sawhney. “I would also like to stress that while this work is going on, drivers need to be patient as they obey signs and speed reductions while driving through a construction zone.”The work begins under the cloud of rising fuel prices and a current labour shortage in the province.
“We’ll get it done, but it won’t be without challenge,” said Ron Glen, CEO of Alberta Roadbuilders and Heavy Construction Association, told CTV News.
It’s hard to hire heavy construction workers in Alberta at the best of times, Glen said, but this year it’s worse. He also said fuel costs, in particular, will affect project price tags.
“So these are challenges that we’re going to have to meet and work with our partners in the owner group, whether it’s Alberta Transportation or municipalities to make sure the risk of these input costs are shared.”
Additionally, Budget 2022 is investing just over $597 million in this year’s Provincial Construction Program., which focuses on projects that will preserve the lifespan of critical highway infrastructure, including bridge construction, bridge deck joint replacements and the repaving of highways.
Projects have been identified in all areas of the province:
75 in the central region;
80 in the north central/Fort McMurray regions;
73 in the Peace region; and
80 in the southern region.
“Investing in road construction and maintenance represents excellent value for taxpayers because improved transportation systems are critical to Alberta’s exports and economic growth,” says Ron Glen, the CEO of Alberta Roadbuilders and Heavy Construction Association. “This significant contribution will sustain jobs and economic benefits to communities.”
Planning continues for multiple capital projects, which include:
Highway 3 twinning – construction is expected to start in 2023;
Highway 1A and Highway 22 interchange at Cochrane – construction is expected to start in 2023;
Highway 11 twinning – work has begun on Phase 1 of the project. This will include the construction of roundabouts at Highway 781 and Range Road 15. Phase 2 is expected to start in early 2023; and
Trans-Canada Highway Wildlife Overpass – construction is underway with completion scheduled for fall 2023.
Alberta’s highway network includes roughly 4,600 bridge structures, including river crossing bridges, overpasses and culverts. Every year, Alberta Transportation typically paves about 1,000 kilometres of highway and rehabilitates or replaces approximately 50 bridges.