By Collin Gallant
Southern Alberta Newspapers
It is becoming less likely that major work to twin a section of Highway 3 will begin this year, but the province is hoping to keep its 2025 completion date in place.
Transportation and Economic Corridors Minister Devin Dreeshen told Southern Alberta Newspapers on Aug. 17 the department is accepting bids for the 46-kilometre portion that could cost upwards of $150 million. They could award a contract in late September with a key consideration being completion on the original deadline, he said.
“If we lose a construction season at the first stage, we’re doing everything to make sure the final project will be completed on time,” said Dreeshen during a telephone press conference to discuss the province’s highway resurfacing plan.
“We’re in talks with the companies that are bidding on it right now to make sure that’s the case. Even though we didn’t have the start of the construction season when we were hoping this year, we want to make sure the completion date stays the same.”
The long sought-after twinning was given new life in 2020 when then premier Jason Kenney announced that the section between Taber and Burdett would move ahead as an economic stimulus program during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Premier Danielle Smith reiterated support for the project and the 2023 start date last fall at a press conference in Medicine Hat. At the same time, she announced the completion of the entire length would now be considered in eight prioritized phases to move things along.
“Obviously the Highway 3 twinning is a priority for the province of Alberta, and we want to make sure the entire stretch is twinned,” said Dreeshen.
“Some are going to be more challenging, but Taber to Burdett is pre-planned with feasibility studies and we know where it’s going to go. But we want to make sure that we have the right contractor to do it.
“The land piece is nearing done – we know where we want to go. We work with landowners and municipalities to make sure it’s the right direction.”
The 2023 ministry capital plan shows the project in final design stages this year.
This spring the government revealed prioritization of the remaining phases that placed the 15-kilometre Seven Persons to Medicine Hat phase at third, behind the ongoing Taber-Burdett phase and a bypass at Coleman in the Crowsnest Pass.
Bow Island to Seven Persons (28 kms) and Bow Island to Burdett (23 kms) were phases 5 and 6, respectively.