By Trevor Busch
With the completion of the Highway 63 twinning project in northwestern Alberta, other potential projects are being considered for improvement by Alberta Transportation, including large segments of Highway 3.
At their March 27 regular meeting, town council voted unanimously to appoint Coun. Andrew Prokop and CAO Cory Armfelt to be the representatives from the Town of Taber to serve on a Project Review Committee for input and guidance on the Functional Planning Study for the twinning of Highway 3 from the western boundary of the Town of Taber to west of the hamlet of Burdett.
The Functional Planning Study will identify staged options to upgrade the existing four-lane urban divided and two-lane undivided highway to a twinned freeway corridor designed to achieve National Highways System standards consistent with previous planning initiatives on Highway 3.
“There’s a study that’s just been finished by the University of Lethbridge, one of the professors, who is going to come up with a draft research study, all the way from the border (B.C.) to Medicine Hat,” said Mayor Henk DeVlieger, who sits as a representative on a regional Highway 3 twinning committee. “Once the committee has that, they’re going to prioritize which parts of Highway 3 will be done first, because it can’t be all done in one piece. So this part that is here is the missing piece of a study that was never done yet. There’s two or three more pieces, so there’s a couple other municipalities being asked the same thing that we are.”
The existing short twinned segment passing through the Town of Taber, and the undivided segment through the hamlet of Grassy Lake will likely need re-aligned bypass routes around Taber and Grassy Lake to enable conformance with NHS standards.
Access corridors to the freeway in this area will be through an estimated five interchanges.
A study completed in 2006 recommended future interchanges at Range Road 175 in Barnwell, Range Road 151, and Range Road 121, and, ‘areas of further study around Taber and Grassy Lake.’
Alberta Transportation was recommending a Project Review Committee be developed with the municipalities involved, including the Municipal District of Taber, Village of Barnwell, Town of Taber and the County of Forty Mile.
The role of the committee will be to provide guidance on issues related to stakeholders and the public, ahead of the public open houses or other consultation. A consultant and Alberta Transportation project team will provide technical feedback.
Officially, the study area starts west of the junction of Highway 864 to the junction of Range Road 130, west of Burdett. Highway 3 is currently designated as a National Highway System “core route” as well as a Long Combination Vehicle corridor.
In January 2008, Highway 3 was designated as a twinning priority in the Alberta government’s 20-year capital plan.
The target date for completion of the study is Nov. 30, 2018.