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Province to start improvements on Highway 28

Years of advocating and complaining from local politicians have finally paid off as the provincial government has announced plans to improve Highway 28.
The province will be doing $43 million worth of construction on Highway 28 this summer.
The province will be doing $43 million worth of construction on Highway 28 this summer.

Years of advocating and complaining from local politicians have finally paid off as the provincial government has announced plans to improve Highway 28.

The near 300-kilometre road, which stretches from north Edmonton all the way to Cold Lake, is considered to be “among the worst highways in Alberta”, according to Premier Jim Prentice.

After experiencing the road first hand on his PC leadership campaign last summer, Prentice vowed to address the problem highway in the province's short-term plan.

The Premier has held true to his promise with the government announcing it would be spending just under $43 million to upgrade a 25-kilometre section of the road in 2015.

“The upgrades will improve curves and widen and overlay a section of the highway from north of Gibbons to north of Highway 827,” said Bob McManus, a spokesperson for Alberta Transportation. “It will include climbing lanes that will be constructed to improve safety and traffic flow as well.”

The approved construction on Highway 28 will see widening and new pavement overlay done on an 11 kilometre section north of Highway 28A up to the bend near Highway 651. Another 14-kilometre section of the highway from Highway 651 to the west side of the intersection with Highway 827 is scheduled for an overlay and preservation work.

McManus says the work is expected to begin this summer and continue on into 2016. An exact timeline for the project is uncertain; with McManus feeling it would all be dependent on the weather conditions.

Cold Lake Mayor Craig Copeland said he was delighted to see the province finally pay attention to what he has frequently called “Alberta's forgotten highway.”

“I'm really, really happy about the funding for Highway 28,” Copeland told the Nouvelle. “$43 million is a start, at least the province is starting to realize just how big a problem that highway is. Now we've got our foot in the door, we should see (spending on Highway 28 continue).”

Bonnyville Mayor Gene Sobolewski was also glad to hear the province finally allotted some funds towards improving the troublesome highway, but feels they could do more.

“I'm happy that the government has recognized the necessity and need, but in terms of the overall budget and what the province deemed as commitments in Edmonton and Calgary with the ring roads, $43 million is a pittance,” said Sobolewski.

“You take a look at the state of the highway, it looks like I am drunk when I am driving and trying to dodge all of the potholes on a good portion of that highway,” added Sobolewski. “I am glad they are doing something but I was hoping they would have taken a greater step to do something to actually fix the problems that we are having on Highway 28.”

Clearly other parts of the province are higher up on the government's list of priorities as 69 per cent of the $6.7 billion allotted towards road and bridge improvements will be spent in Edmonton, Calgary and Fort McMurray.

“Priority transportation projects will provide a safe and efficient provincial highway network that keeps Alberta and its economy moving,” said Transportation Minister Wayne Drysdale. “We will continue to twin Highway 63, we will complete the northeast Anthony Henday Drive and we will start the Southwest Calgary Ring Road.”

The other 31 per cent, roughly $2.1 billion, will be spent on highway rehabilitation and bridge construction projects throughout the rest of the province.

Highway 28 will also see some other minor improvements made as the province plans to improve the intersection at Highway 28 and Highway 37, as well as the intersection at Highway 28A and Highway 37.

Bridge rehabilitation work is planned for the Highway 28 and Highway 28A interchange near the town of Gibbons.

Along with Highway 28, plans for construction projects on four other roads in the region were part of the 2015-18 Tentative Major Construction Projects list released by Alberta Transportation.

Overlay and preservation work is scheduled for a 16-kilometre section of Highway 881 from Highway 28 to six kilometres north of the intersection with Highway 660.

Highway 660 will see provincial crews come out and provide some work to improve the intersection at Highway 882. A 0.31-kilometre strip on Highway 882 near that intersection is also schedule for preservation/ overlay work.

In the Town of Bonnyville, a nine-kilometre stretch of Highway 41 starting at the intersection with Highway 28 and going north will see preservation and overlay work completed.

Down by Elk Point the province plans to rehabilitate Highway 646. A 14-kilometre section of the road east of Highway 41 out to the intersection of Highway 897 will see a new pavement overlay.

A full list of all of the tentative road construction projects the province has in the works for the next three years can be seen on the Alberta Transportation website.

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