The intersection of Ray Gibbon Drive and LeClair Way is failing under current traffic volumes and city staff are recommending the first stage of Ray Gibbon Drive’s expansion take place next year.
Technically a provincial responsibility, the expansion of Ray Gibbon Drive is currently an unfunded project in the 2017-19 Alberta Capital Plan along with dozens of other projects. In June 2016, Alberta Transportation notified St. Albert it was undertaking traffic modelling work on Ray Gibbon, to be completed by the end of 2016, but has provided no subsequent update to the city.
City staff told councillors on Sept. 11 they hope to meet with provincial officials this fall to discuss the modelling work as well as what priority the expansion Ray Gibbon Drive is at.
The city is suggesting breaking the work into three stages. Staff recommended the engineering, design and construction of the first stage – widening the segment from the four-lane cross-section at St. Albert’s southern city limit to just south of the Sturgeon River – take place in 2018, at an estimated cost of $28 million.
They recommend the second stage, running to the north of the McKenney Avenue intersection, take place in 2021 and 2022 at an estimated cost of $20.6 million. The third stage, to Villeneuve Road, would happen in 2028 and 2029 for an estimated cost of $46.6 million.
The recommendations come from an operational analysis the city completed.
During the Sept. 11 council meeting, councillors heard that based on current traffic volumes and projected growth, congestion at the intersection at McKenney Avenue will hit “unacceptable levels” within the next three years.
City manager Kevin Scoble said the project is one of the city’s top priorities when it briefs the incoming council later this year.
Addressing questions of whether St. Albert could pay for the expansion and work out an agreement with the province for repayment, Scoble said he believes that would delay the first stage by a year.
“Going on similar types of projects I’ve been involved in in the past, where a municipality has done provincial work … I would say it probably is a 2019 construction season (project),” he said.
Although the city has not yet had specific discussions with the province about front-ending the project, Scoble said city staff are looking at “nontraditional and alternative means” for financing which could include exploring other provincial funding available from other departments for projects that benefit the city.
“It’s very preliminary, but those are the types of discussions we want to have,” he said.
The city is also going to meet with the City of Edmonton this fall to discuss the potential for completing the 137th Avenue interchange.
Outgoing Mayor Nolan Crouse said that option needs to be considered as the completion of that interchange would alter the road network.
“The dirt is all there – all that’s needed is, essentially, the asphalt,” he said.