Yellowhead upgrades will cut off business access

The City of Edmonton is planning to close a dozen access points leading to Yellowhead Trail to open an 80 km/h six-lane freeway within the next 10 years.

Interchanges at 149th and 66th Streets are slated to be removed

Concept planning for the interchange at 127th Street is expected to begin in late 2018. (CBC)

The city of Edmonton is planning to close a dozen access points leading to Yellowhead Trail so it can open a 80 km/h six-lane freeway within 10 years.

The project could cause headaches for businesses and residents located near the access points, said Coun. Bev Esslinger. 

"This is going to be a long-term disruption for many businesses," Esslinger said.

The city is in the planning and design phase but the main blueprint for the project has already been decided — removing lights and intersections along the trail to allow for more free-flowing traffic.

The city's executive committee meeting got an update on the project Thursday.

People living in nearby communities are concerned they won't have the same easy access to the freeway they now have with the trail, said Esslinger. 

"149th Street for example — there will not be an interchange that crosses north to south, so the impact on businesses on both sides will be significant as well as the access for those communities."

The next couple of years will be critical- Jason Meliefste, infrastructure, planning and design

Signals at 66th, 89th and 107th and several other intersections are slated to be removed.

"My hope is we minimize disruption as much as possible to the businesses and the communities," Esslinger said. "The reality is, there's going to be disruption."

The project is subdivided into six segments, all in various stages of development, said Jason Meliefste, the city's manager of infrastructure, planning and design.

"There's still a lot of planning and design work that still needs to be evolved," he said.

The city is looking for input on improvements to other roads, such as 124th Avenue between 149th Street and 142nd Street, to help mitigate the impacts of cutting off other major access points. 
A dozen intersections along the Yellowhead Trail are slated to be removed to convert the road into a freeway. (City of Edmonton)

"Providing service roads where a lot of that business access could still be maintained, albeit in a different manner," he said.  

Meliefste encourages businesses to give as much input as possible at open house sessions in the next year or two.

"The next couple of years will be critical."

Esslinger also wants the city to look at possible pedestrian bridges across the Yellowhead at certain intersections, like 124th and 127th streets.

"I think we're trying to build a city for everyone to have access," she said. "We need a plan for it, not to add on after."

Major construction is scheduled to begin in 2019 and expected to be finished between 2026 and 2028, Meliefste said. The project is estimated to cost $1 billion.



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