Highways and other transportation necessities, such as bridges, in rural locations across the province are going to receive some much needed and long overdue tender and loving care by the Alberta Government over the next three years.
Transportation Minister Wayne Drysdale made a stop in Rimbey on March 24 to deliver the specifics of the news.
“Roads are very vital to our economy and our quality of life, especially in rural Alberta,” said Drysdale.
The province has 31,000 km of provincial highways, worth an estimated $58.4 billion. “We need to take care of this asset, it’s important to Building Alberta,” he added.
The provincial 2014 budget includes $735 million designated to rehabilitate highways; meaning more than 2,500 km of already existing provincial highways are going to be restored.
Furthermore, Drysdale announced 228 km of new roads will be built. “We’re investing in new roads and bridges throughout the province. But Albertans also told us to invest in the roads and bridges we already have,” said Drysdale.
For Ponoka County, upcoming major projects include overlay work on Highway 53, beginning in the Town of Rimbey and continuing 29 km west to the Clearwater County border; this project runs at approximately $8 million. “It’s what we call a ‘one and done.’ We plan to have this project started and completed in one year,” Drysdale explained.
The 20 km farthest west along this road will be made up of recycled materials. The present asphalt will be ground and put back into the new pavement. “This is a greener, more environmentally sustainable approach,” said Drysdale.
The furthest nine kilometers of highway will also include “deep reclamation” processes. “Innovation happens everywhere in Alberta, and I’m proud to see it here in Rimbey and Ponoka,” he added.
“The (Highway) 53 resurfacing has always been discussed. It’s pretty exciting to get that done,” said Ponoka County Reeve Paul McLauchlin reacting to the announcement by the minister.
The pavement will be monitored and measured annually for smoothness, strength and maintenance costs.
“This rehabilitation of the highway is a corridor for the community which complements Rimbey’s economy by increasing sustainability and the growth in our business sector,” said Rimbey’s mayor, Rick Pankiw.
“Highway 53 situates Rimbey as a gateway to a thriving mixed farming and oil and gas region . . . This highway benefits existing and future growth, residents for the Town of Rimbey, Ponoka County and all who visit our community and surrounding area,” he added.
Secondary Highway 771 up to the Keyera Gas Plant is also being paved, which was a complete surprise to the county. “We are very, very happy . . .I never thought that would come to fruition during my term,” said McLauchlin.
Closer to the Town of Ponoka, Wolf Creek Bridge along Highway II will have its structures replaced. “This is a two year project worth approximately $6 million,” said Drysdale.
The province plans to keep the bridge open during construction, which is another aspect of the project McLauchlin is excited about, as it’s a primary travel area within the county; as is Highway 53 in the west land.
Drysdale warned these projects will mean more crew working on rural roads over the next three years. “With every crew out there you’ll see our commitment for a better, safer transportation system for Albertans.”