Residents of southwest Edmonton will have to put up with the construction of Anthony Henday Drive for longer than expected.
Work to widen the highway from four to six lanes at the bridge over the North Saskatchewan River has been a source of frustration since July.
CTV News Edmonton has learned that while progress has been made on the $100 million upgrade, the project has been delayed for a year.
“While the majority of the southwest Anthony Henday Drive expansion project will be completed this year, work on the bridge will continue through 2023,” said Mike Long, spokesperson for Alberta Transportation.
The majority of the bridge widening work will be completed this year, Long added in a statement to CTV News. Girders for the westbound bridge will be installed this year, while work to add girders to the eastbound bridge is scheduled to begin in spring 2023.
“Several factors, including weather delays, labor shortages and supply chain issues, contributed to the delay in project completion this year,” Long said. “Due to the delay in completion, the contractor will incur financial penalties as stated in the project contract.”
The westbound bridge is closed weekly from 8 p.m. Thursday to 6 a.m. Monday through October, limiting traffic to one lane in each direction on the east side.
During the winter, two lanes of traffic in each direction will be open to motorists.
“We understand that these closures are inconvenient for motorists and will create delays, however, the investment we are making will increase capacity, cause less congestion and improve journey times,” he added.
Whitemud Drive is the recommended alternate route.
Jim Oko, who uses the Henday several times a week, says he avoids it whenever he can.
“It’s very frustrating,” Oko told CTV News Edmonton. “I don’t know why they didn’t put three lanes each way to start.”
“I would like to think it’s the end, but I realize with this government and the city, unfortunately, we are still building towards today,” echoed Yvette Nault-Swinerd, another motorist.
“We’re not building into the future,” Nault-Swinerd added. “So my biggest worry is that we’ll have all three lanes, which will be wonderful, but at that point we’ll need four or five lanes.”
Both Oko and Nault-Swinerd expressed frustration with the sudden lane changes around the construction site.
“I hate stress,” Nault-Swinerd said. “I hate getting caught in a lane. I just hate the escalation of it.”
Gary Brooks, president of Carmacks Enterprises, said while these lane changes may seem random to drivers, they’re meant to provide a concrete time to fall into place.
“They pour the concrete, and it needs time to harden before it opens the roadway,” Brooks said. “That was the catalyst for these center lane closures, which is very rare on asphalt pavement.
“We wouldn’t create a delay unless it was for a good reason and that’s primarily for public safety and then worker safety, of course,” Brooks added.
He felt that next summer’s delays would likely be less disruptive than this summer’s.
“We look forward to opening it as soon as the commuter opens too,” Brooks said.