The first major step towards constructing a ring road around the east end of Red Deer will be up for discussion in city council chambers on Monday.
City of Red Deer’s Engineering Services Department has finished a functional planning study for Northland Drive and 20th Avenue — two roads that will open up further development on the north and east sides of the city.
The study had a number of objectives, including where to put the bypass route, how to minimize environmental and wildlife impacts and adding pedestrian and bicycle paths. The ultimate design, when the city reaches around 188,000 people (it currently is around 90,000), will be staged over 30 years and will accommodate a six-lane expressway.
Northland Drive would be considered phase one of the project.
The study indicated that it should be built as a four-lane road at first, but due to budget constraints, the city also requested an analysis of two lanes for the interim.
Northland Drive begins east of Gaetz Avenue and Hwy 11A, heading southeast along the escarpment, crossing the Red Deer River just south of the wastewater treatment plant and north of the new civic yards. It will then head south and initially tie into 30th Avenue, then 20th Avenue to the east. Then 20th Avenue will tie into McKenzie Road or 19th Street.
Stantec Consulting of Red Deer did the study. It described Red Deer as a vibrant and growing community that will need expansion and development of the transportation network system.
Currently, the majority of employment is found on the west side of the Red Deer River and south of Hwy 11A, while the majority of neighbourhoods are on the river’s east side.
“The construction of Northland Drive will fulfil a number of the city’s needs including an alternative commuting route across the Red Deer River between employment and residential areas,” says the report.
A separate report from Parkland Community Planning Services also indicates the city’s efforts to reach various stakeholders and others who would be affected by the main thoroughfare.
The city is hoping the province will fund a large chunk of the project.
If council approves the functional study, then the city will move forward with detailed designs.