Edmonton’s statements about regional infrastructure funding are misleading

Leduc County seeks to reconfirm its commitment to supporting regional transportation infrastructure, specifically the regional transportation network, which encompasses the 41 Avenue interchange in south Edmonton.

Following Edmonton’s 2016 State of the City address, Leduc County feels it is prudent to expand on statements made by City of Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson in a Metro Edmonton News article on published on April 25, Iveson makes regional revenue pitch.

“We assume Mayor Iveson’s comments have been taken out of context in this article,” said Leduc County Mayor John Whaley. “If not, we are very disappointed in our neighbour’s narrow views on regional infrastructure.”

“By solely focusing on the 41 Avenue interchange project, one only sees a mere snapshot of the larger regional transportation infrastructure network,” continued Whaley. “An interchange is but one piece —albeit an important piece—of the puzzle, and Leduc County is committed to supporting the whole regional transportation network, through complementary and connecting road infrastructure projects. If you look at the bigger picture, you will see that Leduc County has helped build regional infrastructure to ensure people, goods and services can move efficiently and safely throughout the region.”

The Queen Elizabeth II Highway and 41 Avenue SW interchange, bordering Leduc County to the north, is a critical regional transportation project. Leduc County did not contribute funds to this project, as it cannot collect off-site levies and apply them to provincial infrastructure, such as the 41 Avenue interchange.

“However, we have and will continue to contribute significant funds to the connecting infrastructure, including the regional roadways running to and from the interchange,” said Whaley.

41 Avenue SW

To support moving traffic safely and efficiently to and from the interchange, Leduc County contributed $3.5 million to construct a 0.6 km four-lane roadway from the interchange east to the Nisku Spine Road/ Ewing Trail. The total cost for this project was $6.5 million; City of Edmonton contributed $3 million. The structure of 41 Avenue was originally going to be two lanes; however, Leduc County intervened to ensure it would be four lanes to accommodate anticipated traffic volumes and to ensure safety at the intersection of 41 Avenue, Ewing Trail and the Nisku Spine Road.

Ewing Trail

Ewing Trail leads north into the City of Edmonton from the intersection of 41 Avenue SW and the Nisku Spine Road. The Ewing Trail side of the intersection was originally going to narrow to two lanes, while 41 Avenue and the Nisku Spine Road were four lanes. Leduc County wanted to ensure the connecting infrastructure would support anticipated growth in the long-term. As a result, Leduc County proactively approached the City of Edmonton offering to share the costs of increasing to a four-lane roadway. Leduc County contributed $100,000 to this project based on the estimates given by the City of Edmonton.

Nisku Spine Road

Nisku Spine Road leads south into Nisku/Leduc County from the intersection of 41 Avenue SW and Ewing Trail. Leduc County is funding the Nisku Spine Road, which (upon completion) will serve as a major transportation corridor in the capital region, spanning 23 kilometres from 41 Avenue SW in Edmonton south through Nisku and Leduc business parks to Highway 2A south of the City of Leduc.

In November 2015, Leduc County opened the first phase of the Nisku Spine Road (a 3.2 km section) from Township Road 512/41 Avenue SW (Edmonton) to Township Road 510/37 Avenue (Nisku). This section connects Nisku to 41 Avenue SW interchange and the new CP intermodal yard in the City of Edmonton. Phase one or the northern portion of the Nisku Spine Road (41 Avenue SW to Highway 625), as shown on the attached map, is estimated to cost $73 million, while the projected cost for the entire roadway is $220 million.

“Leduc County has planned for and contributed to these regional infrastructure projects, as we believe this road infrastructure is critical to efficiently moving people, goods and services throughout the entire region — regardless of municipal borders,” said Mayor Whaley.

Leduc County remains committed to working collaboratively with its neighbours to find and develop regional solutions for all residents and businesses in the region.