Council pumps brakes on Terwillegar Expressway after provincial funding cut
EDMONTON -- City councillors are rethinking plans for the forthcoming Terwillegar Expressway after funding was slashed in the most recent provincial budget.
Last December, council approved the first phase of the expressway project including $100 million to add lanes and improve traffic flow along the congested roadway.
A quarter of the funding was to have come from a provincial grant program linked to the provincial carbon tax which was subsequently eliminated by the UCP in last month's budget.
"This corridor is absolutely key to giving people their most precious resource back, and that is their time," said Coun. Tim Cartmell.
While the provincial carbon tax is gone, a new federal carbon tax will come into effect in the new year.
Cartmell says Terwillegar Drive sees 40 thousand vehicles a day, too many for a neighbourhood that's outgrown its road design.
"I can plan when I leave my house just based on looking out my front window," said area resident Kristen Osborne.
"The problem's never going to go away, so I feel like it has to be pushed whether there's money in the budget right now or not."
Cartmell says the provincial funding cut leaves the city needing to find $15 million to proceed with the project.
On the upside for the city, the since-cut provincial funding came with conditions, including separated bus lanes and a quota of electric buses. With that funding gone, so too are its conditions meaning the city can examine cheaper and quicker alternatives.
"With those conditions removed, the roadway gets simpler and a little less expensive to build," said Cartmell.
Council is now re-examining its options for Terwillegar as well as a host of other projects jeopardized by the province's funding cut.
Councillors will meet again to decide which projects will get built on Dec. 11.
With files from Jeremy Thompson