The province has agreed to twin the section of Hwy 2A that runs through Lacombe.
Mayor Judy Gordon said the major project to add two more lanes on a four-km stretch of the two-lane highway has been one of her prime goals since she sat as a MLA a number of years ago.
In a deal that was announced by Alberta Transportation Minister Luke Ouellette on Monday, the province has agreed to pick up 83 per cent of the cost and the town will bankroll the rest.
The cost of the project has not been determined and will be determined once the project goes out to tender in the fall of 2010.
Work is expected to start in 2011 and could continue into the following year.
Gordon said the town agreed to pitch in to ensure that a number of “enhancements” were included in the project, including landscaping and the addition of a walking trail next to the highway to beautify the stretch.
Another part of the project will involve major improvements to the intersection at Hwy 12, where road angles and the proximity of rail tracks have created a trouble spot.
“This is a major, major reconstruction,” she said. The highway project will also involve the creation of new turning lanes.
Besides improving traffic flow, the highway work will improve the safety of the increasingly busy route on the town’s east edge.
Design work has already begun and the town will be meeting with residents and businesses along the route to get feedback before final plans are prepared.
As part of the agreement, Lacombe will also begin the process of applying for city status. If granted, the municipality of 12,000 would take over maintenance and responsibility for the highway within town boundaries.
Gordon said towns once automatically became cities after reaching a population of 10,000. The move would mean slightly more money in provincial grants, but the real benefit is the image of a progressive community that will be created.
It would also put Lacombe at the same table as the province’s other 16 cities.
The move to city status will be discussed with town residents in coming months, she said.