Connecting the north dots

Drivers will most likely experience minimal disruptions when construction on a ring road along Red Deer’s east side starts today.

Drivers will most likely experience minimal disruptions when construction on a ring road along Red Deer’s east side starts today.

Increased heavy truck traffic is anticipated in some areas but there will be very little change to traffic flows during Phase 1 of the North Highway Connector, said Frank Colosimo, engineering services manager with the city.

“Because we’re constructing on a road right-of-way that hasn’t been developed yet, we don’t see a lot of traffic interruption expected,” he said. “You will see trucks hauling fill and material to the site. That is what the public will see for the most part.”

Roadways that may see more traffic at some point during construction include the north end of Gaetz Avenue, 77th Street, 67th Street, Riverside Drive and 78th Street Crescent in the Riverside Heavy Industrial area.

Phase 1 will first see crews remove pockets of trees in the industrial park to the north of 78th Street Crescent as well as to the east of the Red Deer River within the flood plain and escarpment areas.

Other work to be completed in Phase 1 include embankment grading from Hwy 11A and Gaetz Avenue easterly to the intersection of 30th Avenue and Northland Drive just south of River Bend Golf Course, major utility installations and the building of a wildlife crossing structure.

Colosimo expects Phase 1 will be done by September or October of 2012.

Phase 2 is scheduled for 2014 and will see construction on the actual expressway begin.

Phase 3, which will expand the number of lanes constructed in Phase 2, may begin in 2017 depending on need and finances.

The anticipated price for the completed six-lane roadway with interchanges is $500 million.

Phase 1 will cost around $90 million, Colosimo said. Roughly $24 million of this has come from the federal and provincial governments through the Building Canada Fund and the Water for Life Fund.

The North Highway Connector will be built from the Hwy 2/Hwy 11A interchange to the Hwy 2/McKenzie Road overpass or possibly further south.

ptrotter@bprda.wpengine.com