Tuesday, April 3, 2007
A Little Traffic Relief?
Grande Prairie has been growing - lots of new people, lots of new businesses and all the traffic that goes along with both of those.
One of the biggest irritations has been what is known locally as The Bypass (you can see it in blue above). It's actually provincial highway #43 and the name "bypass" is a little bit of a throw back because it hasn't been a true bypass in years, the city has grown up around it. Truckers hate it, parents whose kids cross it to go to school hate it, shoppers hate it and if you own a small car (there are some in GP - honestly) it's kinda scary.
The province has a plan to build a new bypass that will really do the job. It would go from the overpass north of the city at the intersection of highways #43 and #2 and reconnect with #43 on the far side of the airport but it's a long ways off. They still have to buy all the land and the cost is going to be BIG.
So, locally we started promoting an interim solution which was to upgrade 116th Street (in red) to a four-lane standard. 116th runs out of the city's industrial area, north through the County of Grande Prairie and right into where the "ultimate" provincial bypass will go. Part of the job would be the City, part would be the County and the last bit would be the Province.
The City started construction in 2006 but the County wouldn't start until they got special "resource road" funding from the province.
The city started lobbying anyone we could to get the funding for the County. Every time we went to Edmonton or met with anyone from the department we would ask. We met with the new Minister of Infrastructure & Transportation in February and presented it to him. The Liberals took up the cause after their visit to the city early in March. I think they got a real picture of how bad it was when they had to travel it so Liberal leader Kevin Taft asked Premier Stelmach about it in question period on March 13th.
And... finally, today the County is announcing that they got funding for it! Great news, but if you live here you want to know when it's going to be built.
Well, the city portion should be done this summer but there hasn't been an announcement on the provincial portion yet and the county will have to tender the work for their bit. So I'm betting that it will miss the construction season of '07. That probably means an '08 construction and late '08 or '09 opening.
So, as for that relief from traffic - not just yet, but we're working on it.