Three years and $1.4 billion later, the northwest section of the Anthony Henday opened to traffic on Tuesday.
MLAs and mayors from across the Capital region were on hand for the big reveal, as the province held a grand opening ceremony at the far eastern exit of the road at Manning Drive.
The 21-kilometre stretch runs from Manning Drive all the way to the Yellowhead Trail and includes 27 bridges. Hundreds of construction workers who helped build the road were on hand for the opening.
While the Henday itself is open, residents using Campbell Road won’t have complete access until Thursday when all of the work on that side road is completed.
St. Albert Mayor Nolan Crouse was on hand and said the opening of the road would mean big things for the community.
“It allows St. Albert to have an opportunity to have some light industry and people who are living in Edmonton can work in St. Albert,” he said.
Crouse said the major impact on the city would be the opportunity it creates for locating businesses within the boundaries.
“We want business as a result of this, that is the key thing for us.”
He said the interest in locating businesses in St. Albert is already well underway and he expects it will only continue to expand.
“What we are seeing is people talking about available land in St. Albert and people talking about the opportunities for business,” he said.
MLA Ken Allred was on hand for the opening as well and echoed Crouse’s comments. He said it will bring the city closer to its neighbours.
“I think it will give St. Albert a lot better access to the whole Capital region,” Allred said. “It will give St. Albert a lot more exposure in Campbell and Riel and I expect it is going to spur some development in the North Campbell area.”
Transport minister Ray Danyluk, who ceremonially opened the road driving a Ford Mustang past the construction barriers, said the road is important for the whole province.
“We are a commodity-based province and it is very important that we have the thoroughfares to be able to move our products to market,” he said.
Danyluk said he was very pleased with the work on the project and thought it would be great for moving people around the region more efficiently.
The road was built as a public private partnership (P3), with the consortium of companies that built the road also receiving a contract to maintain it for the next 30 years.
Danyluk said the road would never have been built as quickly as it was if the province hadn’t done it through the P3 process.
The last stage of the Edmonton ring road project is out for tender right now with three qualifying companies set to bring in their bids early next spring.
Construction of that leg, which will complete the circle from the bridge at Manning Drive to the Sherwood Park freeway, should be completed in the fall of 2016.