City administration has added a second option to upgrade a major highway connector in southwest Edmonton in a report set to go before a committee next week.

The report outlines two options to improve Terwillegar Drive: a freeway and an expressway.

The freeway option would see the roadway widened to six lanes (three in each direction), upgrade intersections to interchanges, and upgrade existing interchanges where Terwillegar meets Anthony Henday Drive and Whitemud Drive.

This option is expected to take between 20 and 30 years to complete, with a price tag of $1.2 billion.

The expressway, on the other hand, was described as a “high capacity, relatively high speed, limited access roadway.”

“Stony Plain Road, 100 Avenue, 91 Street, Calgary Trail or Manning Drive, essentially they’re all forms of an expressway,”said Jason Meliefste with the City of Edmonton.

This second option would include upgrading existing intersections, a nearby shared-used path, and the widening of Terwillegar Drive to four lanes in each direction, with the possibility of the fourth lane accommodating transit.

The report said the design comes with a lower cost (about $300 million for this project), and would take about 10 years to complete.

Comparing the options

The city report said both options will see similar congestion and delay while construction is underway, and both options will accommodate a similar number of vehicles per day.

As for travel time, the city said by 2030, work on both options will not necessarily affect travel time between the Henday and Whitemud (which is about 3 to 4 minutes in the morning and afternoon peak hours).

However, when the freeway option would be completed in 2050, it’s believed travel time will be shorter compared to the expressway option – three minutes in the morning, and two minutes in the afternoon peak time.

One major challenge in designing the upgrade is the short distance between intersections, which would translate to complicated interchanges.

“In order to maintain all the access at every one of those intersections, all of the turning movements, you’re having to build structures over top of structures,” Meliefste said.

Terwillegar Drive stretches between two of the major roadways in Edmonton’s Ward 9, and the area's councillor wants the quicker, less expensive option.

“This corner of the city has been challenged from a transportation perspective for 30 years, so it’s time to invest and solve this problem,” Councillor Tim Cartmell said.

Mayor Don Iveson told CTV News the project could be costly for the city.

“The Yellowhead at least we had grants from the feds and the province to help with, on Terwillegar there aren’t any programs that are an obvious fit for it,” Iveson said. “We’re going to have to take it down systematically, kind of one improvement at a time probably.”

The matter will come up during budget discussions in the fall.

The Urban Planning Committee will receive the report at their meeting October 2.

With files from Jeremy Thompson