Terwillegar Expressway gets green light from Edmonton council

A decades-old wish for many people living in southwest Edmonton is closer to becoming a reality. Friday, Edmonton city council gave the green light to turn Terwillegar Drive into an expressway.

Expressway was proposed in 1974

More than 40 years after the city of Edmonton had plans to turn Terwillegar Drive into an expressway, council approved the $112 million project Friday. (CBC)

A decades-old wish for many people living in southwest Edmonton is closer to reality.

Friday, Edmonton city council gave the green light to turn Terwillegar Drive into an expressway.

Council voted 11-2 to take on just over $112 million in debt to pay for the project, after Coun. Tim Cartmell put forward an amendment to the city's $4.3 billion proposed capital budget. 

Coun. Aaron Paquette and Mike Nickel voted against borrowing money for the project.

City administration didn't set aside money in the main capital budget, but listed it as a project potentially funded by debt. 

Planning and design are estimated to cost about $13 million and in about a year, Cartmell expects the project will be ready to be put out to bid.

He hopes the high-capacity expressway will be complete in approximately four years.

The project will widen the road to four lanes in each direction, widen intersections, possibly add smart signals and dedicated transit lanes.
Coun. Tim Cartmell calls the Terwillegar expressway a vital project for the entire city. (CBC)

Coun. Tim Cartmell pushed for the project to finally come to fruition, especially ahead of Edmonton annexing about six kilometres of land to the south from Leduc County.

"If we don't start enhancing this corridor now, when do we start?" Cartmell asked. "So this is a vital project for this city."

Cartmell had a copy of the City of Edmonton transportation plan from 1974. 

He noted that many of the projects in the plan have been built.

"Terwillegar Drive now is the same as it was back then — a series of temporary roads."

"I've only been waiting for it for 25 years but I have neighbours that have been waiting longer than that."

For years, the proposal was debated and seen at times as an overbuild.

Mayor Don Iveson said the interchange with the Whitemud was always perceived as a tricky area, but a Terwillegar Drive draft plan finished this year may be the key to deal with safety and congestion issues.

"[It's] the opportunity to not just create a car-funnel but a multi-modal transportation corridor," Iveson said. 

Cartmell likened the project's debt to a 25-year mortgage. That translates to a tax increase of about 0.4 per cent starting in 2022 when the expressway is finished.

Budget briefs

Council also approved several other capital projects on Friday.

  • $16 million for the Coronation Community Recreation Centre, as requested by Coun. Bev Esslinger 
  • $27.5 million to fund the Stadium LRT Station upgrade project with 50 per cent funding from Alberta Community Transit Fund and 50% funding from debt financing
  • $3 million for design and planning for 40th Avenue LRT station on the Capital Line, with 40 per cent from ACTF and 60 per cent from debt



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