Hwy 3 twinning planned over 10 years

Several elected officials were scattered among the crowd of about 50 at a press conference Friday in Medicine Hat, where Premier Danielle Smith announced she has asked Minister of Transportation and Economic Corridors Devin Dreeshen to begin plans to twin the remaining portions of Highway 3.

As a first step, a request for proposals has been sent out to three bidders and the government aims to have shovels hit the ground in the spring for the 46 km stretch from Taber to Burdett.

Smith talked about global economic uncertainties and how investing in infrastructure will insulate Alberta from future shocks. The importance of Highway 3, as the first corridor to open last year during the floods in B.C., was also touched upon.

“Our government understands that we are focused on creating jobs and diversifying our economy. I’ve asked Minister Dreeshen and his team to accelerate priority investments in transportation projects and I’ve asked them to expand economic corridors that link our province with major trading partners. That is especially important here in southern Alberta, which is home to so much of our agri-food and manufacturing sectors.”

Dreeshen explained the twinning was going to be done in eight phases, with the first being Taber to Burdett, which was first announced in 2020 and scheduled then for 2023.

Regarding the other seven phases, Dreeshen stated, “There are lots of functional planning studies to go and lots of land to be bought and we have to make sure that everyone in the area, whether it is Bow Island or Piikani Nation, that they are involved in the planning process so we get the best route possible when we finally make it from Medicine Hat to B.C. with a twinned Highway 3.”

With about 100 km of the highway already twinned, the other 215 km will be staged out over the next 10 years. Smith stated Highway 3 was the No. 1 issue she heard about during her Brooks-Medicine Hat byelection campaign and is one that affects multiple ridings. She discussed other corridors being worked on and said, “I think making it easier to go east-west and north-south will attract more investors here.”

Regarding a 15 km stretch of Highway 3 leaving west from Medicine Hat, Dreeshen said planning studies have been completed and engineering will be done in spring of 2023. Once that is completed, he says, they will know what the design will look like and will be able to release more information.

The Highway 3 Twinning Development Association was thanked several times for keeping the pressure on government.

“You now have a government that listens and responds to your concerns,” stated Smith. “We will build a stronger, safer, more economically resilient southern Alberta together.”

MLA Drew Barnes was “pleased they are moving the previous announcement forward to the actual building and implementation stage. I’m so pleased this recognizes the importance of southern Alberta and where commodities, agriculture and oil and gas are produced. It is so time to see Albertans outside of Edmonton and Calgary are being recognized for our needs.”

Mayor Linnsie Clark was also at the conference.

“The Highway 3 twinning project, because it is such a crucial transportation network for our city and our region, will have benefits. We know that this particular piece of the No. 3 won’t come all the way to Medicine Hat but it’s heartening to hear that it’s in the plans. Nonetheless, it’s a benefit for our region, and when our region succeeds, we succeed.”

SAMANTHA JOHNSON, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News