Message from Councillor Andrew Knack (July 28, 2020)
In late 2018 I put forward a motion to complete the detailed design work for the widening of Winterburn Road. To fund that, I was looking to redirect the funding from the design work for another road project that was a lower priority for residents. Even though this was simply swapping projects instead of requesting new funding, there were concerns raised around if this could be considered jumping the queue. While I do not believe the proposal I put forward was unreasonable since it was swapping out different projects within Ward 1, I decided to put forward a motion requesting a review of how we prioritize road widening work and how much it would cost to complete all the road widening work across the city.
That motion was approved and our Administration started working on that report. When it came back, we had a much better appreciation for all the work that was required city-wide. The report showed that there was about $550 million worth of road widening work to do across Edmonton. $300 million of that work is to be funded by the developer because, in the mid-2000s, council changed the rules to require developers to fund the construction of all four lanes of an arterial road. Since Winterburn Road was part of the Lewis Estates Area Structure Plan created in the early 1990s, the developer was not responsible for the construction of four lanes, they only had to build two. That’s why some newer areas have seen road widening before this because they are funded by the developer.
The widening of Winterburn Road is part of the remaining $250 million worth of road widening work. With a cut in the capital funding that the province normally provides, approximately $180 million over 2 years, we had to cut funding for a variety of capital projects across the city. To help address the issues that currently exist with roads like this, our City staff suggested that they would review all the roads contained within the $250 million and come up with a list of targeted improvements that could be completed to provide a similar improvement to traffic flow but without the full cost of the entire road widening.
For Winterburn Road, this would look like the widening of the exit ramp off Stony Plain Road and the installation of turn bays going into Secord and Westview Village. This report was expected to come back earlier this year but the pandemic did cause it to be delayed. We will see the final results in April or May of 2021.
My hope is that when this report is completed, we will have a clear action plan to make the necessary improvements in a timely manner as I know it’s already challenging at certain times of time for people to get in or out of their communities. There was an announcement earlier today by the province to provide funding for municipalities. What I’m unsure of is home much, if any, will be able to go towards capital projects. Either way, this new plan should provide us with some very cost-effective solutions that can be implemented quickly and create a real improvement in traffic flow in the area.