The province plans to begin connecting the last 215 kilometers of Highway 3 between the Saskatchewan and BC borders with its upcoming budget.
Premier Danielle Smith announced Friday the province is ready to proceed with a request for proposals for the first of eight sections of the stretch of highway. The last seven sections are in various stages of project readiness.
“If we can, we can create the transportation infrastructure to help grow this whole region, then that’s the job we need to do,” she said. “I know with the recovery in the economy it feels like it hasn’t hit this region yet. And I think we need to do what we can to send a signal to the business investment community that we’re going to make the investments necessary for them to be able to relocate down here.”
The Premier said the Crowsnest Highway has proven its worth as it is the only major stretch of highway between the two provinces that remained open during the 2021 floods in BC
A request for proposal was issued to three bidders for the first phase, 46 kilometers between Taber and Burdett, and construction is expected to begin in 2023.
The next four phases are in the engineering and design phase, which will begin in the spring for 10 km of the Coleman Bypass, 15 km east of Seven Persons to Medicine Hat, 47 km from Blairmore to east of Pincher Creek, and 28 km East. of Bow Island to Seven Persons.
Phase 6, which is 23 km east of Burdett to east of Bow Island, is at the consultation stage to finalize alignment. Phase 7, 38 km between Pincher Creek and Fort Macleod, is undergoing a functional planning study by Piikani Nation. The final phase is eight kilometers from the Alberta-BC border to Highway 3X and requires liaison with BC for alignment and improvements planned on the other side of the border.
No dollars have been attributed to any phases of the project, but it will take approximately 10 years to complete all eight phases.
Devin Dreeshen, Minister of Transportation and Economic Corridors, said the province needs to step up and meet the economic activity on this infrastructure by ensuring it can handle the demands placed on it.
“It’s really part of how we can build our province,” he said. “This highway 3 corridor is a very important piece. . . in agriculture and also in oil and gas. So expanding that was really the top mandate I got from the prime minister.”