Final leg of Edmonton's Anthony Henday Drive to open Saturday

The final link in Anthony Henday Drive will open to traffic on Saturday afternoon after a grand opening marking the first ring road in Alberta to be completed.

Edmonton's completed ring road will be Alberta's first

Construction work like this has now finished. Northeast Anthony Henday Drive will open to traffic on Saturday. (CBC)

The final link in Anthony Henday Drive will open to traffic on Saturday afternoon, after a grand opening marking the first ring road in Alberta to be completed.

The ceremony to open the 27-kilometre, $1.81-billion northeast Anthony Henday Drive will be held on the new northbound bridge over the North Saskatchewan River.

Once the road is opened to traffic, the Henday is expected to provide motorists with 80 kilometres of free-flow traffic around Edmonton.

Construction started in June 2012. The opening falls on the scheduled completion date of Oct. 1, 2016.

"I think we're just happy to see that it's opening on time," Aileen Machell, press secretary to Transportation Minister Brian Mason, said Friday.

Mason and federal Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi will take part in the ceremony Saturday at 11 a.m. They will be joined by representatives of Edmonton city council, the Capital Region Board, and the Samson Cree First Nation.

About an hour after the ceremony wraps up, the road will open to traffic, Machell said.

Drivers will continue to see landscaping, seeding and final bridge work off to the side of the road, but it won't impede traffic, she said.
(Government of Alberta)

The northeast section of the ring road extends from Manning Freeway to Whitemud Drive.

Its 27-km length is six- and eight-lane divided freeway, for a total of 189 paved kilometres.

The project included nine interchanges, two road flyovers, eight rail flyovers and two bridges — northbound and southbound structures spanning the North Saskatchewan River — for a total of 47 bridge structures.

The $1.81-billion price includes $37 million from the federal government and $2 million from the City of Edmonton for a pedestrian and bicycle path on the new river crossing.

The project was built as a P3 — a public private partnership.

"Over the 30-year maintenance contract, we anticipate that more than 2,000 jobs will be required for ongoing maintenance, rehabilitation and operation of the northeast Anthony Henday," Machell said.

Calgary's ring road is expected to to be complete in 2021. Construction is underway on the final portion in the city's southwest.