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Edmonton roads projects see new money from Alberta budget for cost overruns

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The Alberta government has set aside nearly $1 billion in its annual budget for roads in the province's two biggest cities.

Many projects, like the Terwillegar Drive Expressway in southwest Edmonton, we already announced, but the provincial transportation minister says there is new money to account for cost overruns.

"A tremendous amount of investment in that part of the city, but obviously, it’s a demand by the City of Edmonton and Edmontonians to make sure that those high-growth areas with lots of traffic congestion are getting the attention that they need," Minister Devin Dreeshen told CTV News Edmonton on Friday.

The 2024 budget includes an extra $124 million for Terwillegar Drive, topping up funding for the interchange with Whitemud Drive and more lanes all the way to Anthony Henday Drive.

There is also more money for the Yellowhead freeway conversion and improvements for Ray Gibbon Drive in St. Albert.

More than half of the spending on roads in this year's provincial budget is for Deerfoot Trail in Calgary.

"We see the numbers as a provincial government in a growing population, so we want to make sure that, (for) transportation infrastructure, the pace has kept up to our growth," Dreeshen said.

"It's maintaining the assets that we have is important to make sure that people can can drive on a road safely, but also new new expansion, new construction projects so we can keep pace with this growth that we're seeing."

Aside from the construction top-ups, there's not a lot of new money for Edmonton in the budget.

City Coun. Andrew Knack said Edmonton is receiving $600 million less than expected thanks to a pause on the new hospital in the city's south.

"That’s still a net loss to what our total budget is, to what we’ve been expecting from the province and doesn’t take into account or factor in all of the other growth that we’re experiencing in a variety of other areas," Knack, who represents Ward Nakota Isga, told CTV News Edmonton on Friday.

Edmonton will receive $158 million for general infrastructure spending this year through the new local government fiscal framework.

Knack says that amounts to a cut considering inflation and the city's booming population.

"The Premier said in her address that we're not going to keep up spending with inflation and population growth, but I really worry about that because think about Edmonton's population, which has grown now by 100,000 people in two years," Knack said.

"We've added the city of Red Deer into our boundaries within the last year, not keeping up with population growth is is a pretty big challenge and most municipalities across this province are facing this.

"We're often in the position of if we don't fund growth, everyone moving here is now going to have less opportunity available to them." 

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