Highway 2 congestion to be studied as province looks at adding lanes, high-speed rail
Alberta government says there is no cost or timeline yet for the study
The provincial government is going to study what should be done about congestion on Highway 2 between Calgary and Edmonton.
Roughly 80,000 to 90,000 vehicles use that stretch every day.
Premier Rachel Notley says she's keeping an open mind, and widening the road — also known as the Queen Elizabeth II Highway or QEII — is one of the possibilities that will be examined.
Other forms of transportation, such as high-speed rail, are being considered. The province has been buying land for the project.
"I'm sure that our ministers will be looking at the most cost effective and environmentally responsible way to do that," said Notley.
Traffic — particularly large trucks — increases every year on the major North American trade corridor, and could triple by 2050, so a consultant will be tasked with coming up with options for the government.
Current traffic volumes already exceed the government's own guidelines for expanding the highway to six or even eight lanes in some areas.
Peter Wallis, with the Van Horne Institute, says widening 300 kilometres of highway will be much tougher and pricier than it sounds.
"An additional lane is going to mean you're going to have to take out all the bridges because all the bridges are completely at capacity at this point," said Wallis. "So if you're going to put an additional lane on either side, all the bridges have to be replaced."
Officials don't yet have estimates for cost or timeframe for the study.