News / Edmonton

Yellowhead freeflow plan moving forward slowly

The City of Edmonton has applied for national infrastructure funding through the Building Canada fund to convert the Yellowhead Trail into a freeway.

The city has plans to convert the Yellowhead Trail into a freeway, but will need federal money to do so.

Metro File

The city has plans to convert the Yellowhead Trail into a freeway, but will need federal money to do so.

The city is working to convince Ottawa it has to convert the Yellowhead Trail into a future freeway, and although it remains a distant goal, top planners say it can’t come soon enough.

Rob Gibbard, director of facility and capital planning, said traffic volumes are projected to double in the next 30 years, “and the existing intersections are at failure mode.”

A city committee heard Wednesday that administration has applied for federal funding for the project, but in order to receive it, will “have to demonstrate to the federal government that the Yellowhead trail is a nationally significant project,” Gibbard said.

To do so, he explained the city has done economic analysis work, and made a compelling case for the route being critical to moving goods across the region.

“It does have a lot of positive benefits for Edmonton, the region, Alberta and Canada,” he said.

But in order to get to the point where Ottawa would be ready to fund, he said there is still more work to do.

The federal government needs more modelling and projections for usage, and a better idea of the scope of work, which won’t be available until further planning and consultations are done.

Making the route a freeway was approved by council in 2011, and is meant to ensure efficient goods movement across Edmonton to stimulate economic activity across the region.

Mayor Don Iveson said the Anthony Henday “was going to be a relief valve” for the traffic issues, and has been, “but it buys us years not decades.”

“It will get significantly and progressively worse,” Gibbard said, but with more planning and funding yet to come, his best guess for breaking ground on the project is 2020.

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