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Old 05-05-2012, 03:52 PM   #1
Sonic Death Monkey
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Default East West Connector - Hwy 686 to Hwy 63 | Planned

http://www.transportation.alberta.ca...northeast.aspx

Quote:
East West Connector - Hwy 686 to Hwy 63

Location: Highway 686 from Red Earth Creek to West of Highway 63 (Fort McMurray)

Description: A Functional Planning Study has been completed to determine a new highway link between Red Earth Creek and Fort McMurray (Hwy 686 to Hwy 63). This study was to determine the most viable and feasible route. The study has determined the right of way requirements for a future multi-lane highway complete with watercourse crossings, major intersection locations, utility crossings and potential material sources.

Schedule: Planning is completed. Not on the three year construction program.

Consultant: Stantec Consulting Ltd.

For more information, contact: danny.jung@gov.ab.ca
Map:
http://www.transportation.alberta.ca...nector_Map.pdf

With the recent controversy re: Hwy 63, clearly more alternate road linkages to the NE are needed. Such a road linking Fort Mac to the Peace Country and the aboriginal communities in between would be worthwhile.
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Old 05-05-2012, 04:26 PM   #2
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This has been kicked around for 10 - 20 years. Always been reasons to promote the road - the most recent is the increasing development of oilsands in the Peace River region. Always been reasons to reject such a major multi-billion dollar project, usually around the high per-km cost of the highway construction and the (relatively) few votes such a road would influence.

Given the lengthy (and rather ambitious) list of road construction projects under consideration - in addition to the existing three-year plan - I wonder if you would propose expanding rural highway funding (at the expense of urban transportation funding? continuing to spend royalty revenues instead of saving?) or if you see this project being more worthwhile than many of the others?

Also, this highway would go through some of the worst muskeg in this province south of 58 N.
Makes the Fort Mac twinning look like a cakewalk. In addition to the significant increase in building cost, it should be necessary to expend huge amounts for ongoing maintenance and rehabilitation of the road...especially given the heavy loads that would cross this road. Any problem with that?

And FWIW, many of the region's aboriginal communities would not view a major expansion of road access to the region as "worthwhile". For at least one community, the objection would likely lead to physical blockades if court action failed. Even if everyone got on board, it's likely that environmental groups would want this road torn up and the land remediated once the oilsands development ends in about 30-40 years. Do you really want to build a road that is only needed for half a century?

IMHO, this province doesn't need more roads - it needs better roads, preferably targeted at highly-used roadways. I'd rather see this capital redirected to ongoing rehabilitation funding, or targeted urban traffic bypasses. Places like Athabasca and High Prairie would be much happier with a highway bypass as some northern freeway at 100 times the cost. Granted, if any new road is needed this one is probably it. But not until road maintenance is addressed, not until inter-provincial roadways (including Hwy 63) are completed, not until heavy loads are taken off of narrow town streets.
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Old 06-05-2012, 09:44 AM   #3
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70,000 people in Fort Mac would disagree with you and say just one major highway out of Alberta's 5th largest city is not acceptable.

Perhaps another alternative route that could be explored would be an extension of Hwy 754 or Hwy 813 from Wabasca. That would not only connect Fort Mac to the Peace Country via Slave Lake, but it would be another route to Edmonton via Athabasca.
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Old 06-05-2012, 12:27 PM   #4
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First, they have two routes (albeit w/ a 25km common road immediately south of the bridge). If 881 is insufficient as an alternate route (and the paving of 881 goes some way to making it sufficient) focus on improving that. Goodness knows it takes focus and determination to get most provincial government initiatives off the ground up there.

Second, 986 (or whatever this connector would be called) would be at best a second-alternate for Fort Mac residents - the road goes in the wrong direction. Nearest section of paved road is Red Earth - 450 km from Edmonton. Basically someone drove 3 hours across the middle of nowhere in order to get 60 km closer to their destination. How often would it be used?

If someone needs to build a billion dollar fire escape, build out 69 beside the ANR right-of-way into Anzac. If you need east-west to nowhere, fund the La Loche road. Klein announced it 7 years ago, and supposedly for just $45mil. (I'm guessing it's at least double - it was triple in 2008 - probably 5 times that for a sturdy, highway-grade gravel road.)

Given a choice between a better-maintained 881 and a new 986, I am pretty sure what residents would want. Hands down. And a billion would pay for a very-well-maintained 881.... For that matter, a lot of quotes seemed to focus on law enforcement. Build (and fund!) an RCMP detachment, or even an Alberta Sherriff depot in Mariana Lakes with primary responsibility for traffic safety. Of course, the residents of Fort McKay and Anzac would probably like a detachment first, and probably deserve it too. Again...that billion dollars (or even the annual maintenance costs for a paved muskeg road) would go a long way to addressing whatever problems you're trying to solve with this east-west connector.

Build what's already been promised (usually more than once). Then Albertans can dream about the next toy to buy, while complaining about "high taxes" and "poor maintenance" in the same breath.

Now when someone wants to put a few billion of primarily oilsands investment into the region west of the Athabasca river, a re-opened discussion of 986 makes more sense. For existing Peace River oilsands work, I'd suggest the new Hwy 55 interchange in Athabasca and some airport improvements in Peace River are much more useful. The current conventional oil companies working out of Wabasca would probably prefer improved roads south than a boondoggle to Ft. Mac.

BTW: If you ran 813 further north, you'd need a new/replacement bridge across the Athabasca to handle anything except the most modest commercial load. Even the increased passenger vehicle volume probably means budgeting for a new bridge. Not the end of an idea, but it shows that a "simple" idea can in fact involve a lot of moving parts. Take a look at twinning Highway 28 north of Gibbons to the 63 turnoff - the current concept involves a lot of land acquisition that significantly increases the cost and the level of community agreement...and stretching the amount of time it will take to get it built.
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Old 06-05-2012, 01:11 PM   #5
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Another reason why they are exploring a direct highway between Fort Mac and the Peace country is commercial...they are looking at shortening truck traffic to BC, specifically Dawson Creek (i.e. mile 0 of Alaska Hwy), Prince Rupert and Vancouver.
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Old 06-05-2012, 01:21 PM   #6
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bulid more highway up north means we may ended up pay more taxes. Do people willing to pay for that ?? that's a big question mark ?
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Old 06-05-2012, 02:07 PM   #7
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^^Sure hope not - can you identify who "they" are making this argument?

Fort Mac - Prince Rupert via Anthony Henday: 1885km

Fort Mac - Prince Rupert via Athabasca/Highway 49*/Dawson Creek: 1940km
Fort Mac - Prince Rupert via Athabasca/Grande Prairie: 2001km
Estimated Distance reduction after building 986 via Highway 49: 150km (1790/1850km)
Estimated Distance reduction after building 986 via Grande Prairie: 120km (1820/1880km)

And Vancouver is 420km further via Hart Highway than Yellowhead Highway today, so I'm pretty sure it's not to get to Vancouver faster....

Are you thinking the Yukon government (or, for that matter, the State of Alaska) is eager to permit those Kearl loads over roads that cost them a fortune to maintain for existing traffic, never mind for Alberta-bound industrial loads? Anways, Highway 2 already allows for such traffic. Or that the natural gas boys in Ft. St. John or Fort Nelson have much of a need to get to Fort Mac regularly?

*Highway 49 is not a preferred heavy/extended load route, but being a High Vehicle Route means you can get a permit for most things.
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Old 06-05-2012, 03:59 PM   #8
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There's more to consider than just distances. If such a road is being considered by the province as an alternative west coast route, they will also look at existing and projected traffic volumes on existing and proposed roads, mountain passes, national parks, and population areas (including a 1M metro area).

In any case, I found this document from 2008:
http://www.nadc.gov.ab.ca/Docs/North...ategy-2008.pdf

Page 12:

Quote:
NORTHERN ALBERTA EAST-WEST HIGHWAY CORRIDOR
Fort McMurray - Peace River

Description
The original plan includes the paving of Highway 986 between Peace River and Red Earth. The highway connection between Red Earth and Fort McMurray would be built passing through the Peerless Lake region. This northern connection would: provide greater access to natural resources; tourism development opportunities; increasing labour supply for high growth areas; mobility related to employment, and increased access to western ports and overseas markets.

Current Status
There is a high degree of industry and community support for this project due to the following: lever many economic development and tourism opportunities; provide access to existing and undeveloped resources including mineral exploration; de-isolation of northern communities (Chipewyan Lake); access to services and employment opportunities and greater connections to markets/ocean ports. There is a significant road network already in place, and further development by industry is on-going. This project will provide a coordinated approach to resource access development and provide a new much needed northern east-west public travel route.

This highway corridor will provide another means of access to the Fort McMurray area, a critical consideration in light of events that, from time-to-time, close other access routes into the area. Alberta Transportation has completed a corridor study, and is currently working on a planning study led by Stantec Consulting to be completed in the fall of 2009. Open houses will be held in Fort McMurray, Red Earth, and Wabasca.
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Old 20-10-2012, 10:28 PM   #9
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Once the twinning of Hwy 63 is done, I wonder if extending Hwy 686 will still happen?
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