by Christina Martens
It was no April Fool’s joke when after years of lobbying by local politicians, Albeta Premier Jim Prentice announced last week that the twinning of Highway 19 would begin.
Gathering with a number of local business people and politicians, the Premier said, “All of this is so we can continue to build a safe infrastructure and support economic growth.”
The province will invest $80 million dollars into the project that will see Highway 19 twinned between the QEII and Highway 60.
“These dollars will also keep Alberta working in these challenging times in our economy,” he said.
Drayton Valley-Devon MLA Diana McQueen and Leduc-Beaumont MLA George Rogers have been lobbying the Provincial Government for the past five years to get the highway twinned in order to make it safer and to alleviate congestion at the QE II / Highway 19 interchange. “This is just one example of many communities that has had your time and your ear,” McQueen told Prentice. “This is an example of really great collaboration.”
“The safety of people is first and foremost,” said Rogers. “This allows for safe travel and safe conveyance (of goods) in the region.”
Leduc Mayor Greg Krischke said the construction project is a crucial piece of the puzzle and while it won’t impact Leduc directly, the fact the highway borders the city will benefit everyone as it keeps infrastructure growing.
Leduc County Mayor John Whaley said they have been trying to get the highway twinned for the past decade and the Premier’s announcement is an example that this is changing.
“This is a major highway in the region and the only piece that isn’t twinned. It’s good news. The government listened and put money into it. I do believe the province is listening to the people and is they’re doing what they can with the money they have.”
Minister of Transportation Wayne Drysdale said construction on the project won’t begin until next year as they are working with the Edmonton International Airport to review the runway realignment, finish the final design and put the project out to tender. The project is expected to take two to three years to complete.