A recent call for the Alberta and B.C. governments to take another look at building a shortcut connecting central Alberta and the B.C. Interior has caused plenty of stir among British Columbians – but don’t hold your breath on it coming to fruition.
Earlier this week, Central Alberta Economic Partnership chair John Vandermeer told Black Press Media’s Red Deer Advocate that the coalition would like to undertake an economic development study for the region, including a reassessment of the viability of the Howse Pass route – a route through the mountains that has been brought up a number of times over the decades.
The shortcut, which underwent its last serious review in 2005, would shave about 95 kilometres off the current 760-kilometre driver from Red Deer to Kamloops. According to Vandeermeer, a number of Alberta municipal leaders told the coalition they were interested in the potential economic boost a shorter mountain route could bring to locals in central Alberta.
However, any feasibility review will have to count the B.C. government out.
The Ministry of Transportation told Black Press Media Wednesday, a day after the NDP government unveiled its 2020-21 budget, that current plans include funding other highway improvement projects as well as bridge infrastructure.
This includes expanding a 4.8-kilometre section of the Kicking Horse Canyon along the Trans-Canada Highway to four lanes. Construction is expected to begin in the fall, marking the fourth and final phase of the revitalization project along that route.
The proposed shortcut sparked mixed reviews by Black Press Media readers, specifically those who live closest to the route’s end point which would be about 30 kilometres west of Golden.
Some readers were of the view that another major highway would simply lead to more crashes, while others remained doubtful that the route – which would run through Banff National Park – could ever pass environmental reviews.
A majority voiced support for expanding the Trans-Canada Highway before breaking new ground on yet another major infrastructure project.