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Highway 20 twinning showcased at Sylvan Lake open house

Twinning not expected for many years but preliminary work has begun

Sylvan Lakers got a look at what twinning Highway 20 might look like at an open house on Thursday.

Alberta Transportation and Economic Corridors showed a variety of potential options for turning the highway into a four-lane divided highway from Highway 11 north to Highway 12, just west of Bentley.

The project is in its earliest stages and construction is likely a decade or longer away.

Consultants began the functional planning study a couple of months ago and some concept designs and various options were illustrated on more than a dozen large poster boards at the well-attended open house at NexSource Centre.

“What we’re trying to provide today is some of the initial concepts that would be feasible for twinning this highway,” said Chris Lo, Alberta Transportation central region infrastructure engineer.

“This type of study is for long-range planning. So, basically we’re looking really far out in the future.

“What we’re trying to accomplish at the end of the study is we’ll try to come up with a plan that would be in place and endorsed by everyone and that would be the guiding principle for future development and right-of-way acquisition and so forth,” said Lo.

No timeline is in place for the project and no construction funding allocated.

Current provincial traffic models suggest it could take as many as 25 years before the number of vehicles using the route calls for twinning.

Lo cautioned that is a “moving target” and many factors, such as safety, surrounding development and availability of funding, will influence when twinning is pursued.

Alberta Transportation is also looking into the feasibility and seeking feedback on the possibility of creating an “all-roundabout corridor” on Highway 20 between Highway 11 and Highway 11A.

A roundabout has already been built at Highway 11A and construction is about to begin on another at Memorial Drive and Highway 20. Alberta Transportation also plans one at Highway 11.

Sylvan Lake Mayor Megan Hanson, along with a number of councillors and town staff, were among those who turned out to see what Alberta Transportation had in mind.

Hanson said it was no surprise to see that the province is taking an early look at how the highway network might evolve.

“We know that traffic flows are increasing on that highway and will only continue to increase,” said Hanson. “It’s a wise move to look into the future and this looks like it’s quite future-planned.

“We’re happy to be part of the conversation now rather than when the project happens.”

Meanwhile, the Highway 11 twinning project remains on track. The first two phases from Sylvan Lake to Benalto are done.

Hanson said while there was some early grumbling about the Highway 11 roundabouts now in place at 50th and 60th Streets they have since proved popular.

The Memorial Drive roundabout is eagerly anticipated.

“That intersection at Memorial and the highway is rough. It’s not a safe intersection. The sight lines are terrible and we’ve had some really serious incidents at that intersection.”

The third phase of Highway 11 twinning, a small one-kilometre section from Rocky Mountain House to Highway 22, is expected to be built in 2025 and planning is underway for the final 41-km stretch from Highway 22 to Township Road 390 east to Benalto.

Paul Cowley

About the Author: Paul Cowley

Paul grew up in Brampton, Ont. and began his journalism career in 1990 at the Alaska Highway News in Fort. St. John, B.C.
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