Widening of southwest leg of Anthony Henday Drive to start next year

Expanding the stretch of the Edmonton highway from 4 to 6 lanes will take years but 'will definitely be worth it'

Expanding the stretch of Edmonton highway to 6 lanes will take 3 years but 'will definitely be worth it'

The southwest leg of Anthony Henday Drive will be widened from two to three lanes in each direction. (Scott Neufeld/CBC)

The southwest leg of Edmonton's ring road, which turns into a mass of traffic gridlock in rush hour, is going to be widened.

Brian Mason, Alberta's Minister of Transportation, announced Tuesday that Anthony Henday Drive, which encircles the city, will expand from four to six lanes from 111th Street to Whitemud Drive. 

"I'm very well aware of the bottlenecks and the traffic jams that occur on this segment of the Henday," Mason said

The road was designed for 40,000 vehicles but sees a daily average of 80,000. 

The design work, estimated to cost $6 million, has already begun. Construction is expected to start next year, will take three years to complete and has a current budget of $100 million. 

Alberta Transportation Minister Brian Mason announces the expansion of the southwest leg of Anthony Henday Drive. (Scott Neufeld/CBC)

Causes of congestion

Coun. Tim Cartmell, who represents that area of the city, cited two major sources of congestion in that area: the rapid growth of the city's southwest suburban neighbourhoods and the movement of commercial goods around the edge of Edmonton.

"A road with capacity attracts development, it attracts volume and then becomes overcrowded," Cartmell said. 

"The transportation system in southwest Edmonton has been severely challenged for many years," he said. "This announcement is the first step toward providing the system improvements that this corner of the city so badly needs." 

Designed to expand

The Henday is supposed to be 80 kilometres of free-flowing traffic. It took decades to build and was completed in four segments. The southwest leg was constructed first and was designed so that it could be expanded. 

The province earmarked the money for the expansion in the spring budget. 

Cartmell acknowledged the construction will cause delays. 

"In the end, it will definitely be worth it," he said. 

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