The Heartland region is in need of a new bridge to span the North Saskatchewan River and it must be built to allow the flow of heavy equipment, says the head of Alberta’s Industrial Heartland Association.
Executive Director Neil Shelly said that from a long-term standpoint a new bridge crossing is needed to alleviate traffic concerns and help the transportation of heavy materials across the North Saskatchewan.
“Currently the only bridge capable of heavy loads is in Two Hills, which is a very long trip out of the way,” said Shelly. “A bridge would help alleviate traffic in Fort Saskatchewan but also make industrial development on the other side of the river more attractive.”
Shelly said ideally the bridge would be built south of Fort Saskatchewan. Since many of the modular assembly yards and heavy equipment manufacturing is in Edmonton on the south side of the North Saskatchewan, it much more difficult to get that equipment to the north side of the river when the bridge crossing is roughly 100 kilometres east of Fort Saskatchewan.
According to Jasmine Franklin, spokesperson for Alberta Transportation, a new bridge is not currently a priority.
“Alberta Transportation is aware that crossing has been identified by the Industrial Heartland Association,” she said. “We are not currently working on plans for building at that location, but we are aware of it.”
Another of the major areas of concern for the Industrial Heartland is the intersection of Highway 15, Highway 37 and Highway 825, just north of Fort Saskatchewan.
“That intersection on Highway 15 and the adjacent bridge crossing into Fort Saskatchewan have become a major bottleneck,” said Shelly.
Alberta Transportation is aware of the concerns at the intersection, according to Franklin. She said an open house was held in February to get feedback on two options for the intersection. One option would be to install two roundabouts and the other would be to reconfigure the intersection with two sets of traffic lights. She said Alberta Transportation has not chosen a preferred option yet, but plans to host another open house later this year.
Shelly said other priorities to improve transportation routes in the Heartland include twinning Highway 15 between Fort Saskatchewan and Lamont County as well as twinning Highway 28A.