Feds and province needed for $1-billion Yellowhead Trail overhaul, says city

The city says it has a plan to overhaul a 25-kilometre section of Yellowhead Trail, with new intersections, road widening, and other upgrades to make it more free-flowing.

A 25-kilometre section of the Yellowhead within city limits needs to be a free-flowing freeway

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

The construction and congestion along the Yellowhead Trail seems never-ending. 

Nowhere is that more evident than at the intersection of 127th Street. Construction signs dot the area, traffic snarls and business owners have learned to work around the traffic tie-ups.

"Every morning commuting to work has its challenges. Depending on what time I'm coming in, I base my travel accordingly to where I think the least travel will be," said Carmelo Cirone, who owns Edmonton Truck Sales located at a lot just north of the 127th Street intersection.

The city has identified a 25-kilometre section of the Yellowhead for a facelift that would take 10 years to complete at an estimated cost of $1-billion. The city is pushing for the federal and provincial governments to each contribute a third of the project cost.

Cirone, and others in the area who would be most affected by more long-term construction, say the work needs to get done.

"It's like anything — nobody likes the downtime of the construction but long-term it will benefit people, as long as each and every business that is in that area eventually will have access."

The City of Edmonton has requested 1-billion dollars for upgrades to the Yellowhead Trail. (CBC News)

The Yellowhead Upgrade Project would make it a free-flowing, non-signalized freeway in Edmonton. The project would include:

  • the creation of major interchanges at 121st and 127th Streets
  • modification of three additional interchanges
  • widened roadways at various locations
  • the elimination of eight signalized intersections and more than a dozen non-signalized intersections and/or access points

The total cost for detailed design, land purchases and construction is estimated at  $1-billion dollars. The federal government has indicated interest.

Mayor Don Iveson says the city has the backing of businesses that rely on the busy east-west corridor, despite concerns about traffic during construction.

"Obviously, there's disruption, but it's not in anyone's interest to make it impossible to do business. It might be tougher for a couple of years, but every one of the business people I spoke to today said that Edmonton will come out ahead, and their businesses will come out ahead."

Ellie Sasseville, who represents the Kingsway Business Association, said the plan has been long overdue and despite fears of what more disruption could mean, she says many business owners are supportive.

"I think there will be some growing pains. Obviously, it's a very long project and so we recognize that there will be some changes of entry points possibly for some business and we know that those may create some challenges, " said Sasseville.

"Being involved from the very onset of a project like this does provide the opportunity for the voice of the business community (to be) heard and that we do what's best for them, while we get this project done."

The city plan also noted that a project of this size has the potential to create as many as 6,000 direct and indirect jobs in the province.