Businesses along Yellowhead Trail say a plan to remove intersections and turn the road into a freeway could cost them customers.
On Wednesday, councillors on the Transportation Committee heard submissions on the second stage of the five-stage project — an interchange at 149th Street.
Sid Hanson, the owner of Caster Town Ltd., told councillors that his business would lose direct access to the Yellowhead if the interchange is built.
"Why are we designating Yellowhead as a freeway?" he asked.
"If we want a freeway and we want to spend in excess of a billion dollars to do that, let's answer that question. But don't simply designate it as a freeway without understanding the implications."
The freeway proposal is seen as a way to improve the flow of vehicles, a situation that is only going to get worse over time if it isn’t addressed.
City administration estimates traffic on the Yellowhead will double to 120,000 vehicles a day -- including 20,000 trucks -- by 2044.
Coun. Amarjeet Sohi says more information is needed on the full impact of this project.
"We cannot do anything to Yellowhead at the expense of local businesses," Sohi said. "We need to sustain them. We need to make sure that they're thriving."
Strategy A for the 149th St. intersection would see the creation of a partial interchange at a cost between $305 million and $370 million, with an additional $100 million to $135 million to deal with the rail crossing.
Strategy B would rely on one-way service roads at an estimated cost of $170 million to $215 million. Construction of an at-grade crossing of the rail line would add another $160 million to $195 million.
The cost of the entire five-stage project to turn the Yellowhead into a freeway is estimated at $1.2 billion. The issue will come back before city council early next year.