Vital road improvements in west Lethbridge have been advanced by approximately five years to improve safety and access for residents. City Council today approved a plan to fast track the widening of Whoop-Up Drive and the completion of sections of Metis Trail beginning in 2017.
This new work will see Whoop-Up Drive expanded from two lanes to four lanes between McMaster Blvd/Jerry Potts Blvd to 30 Street West as well as the completion of the first two lanes of Metis Trail between Walsh Drive and Whoop-Up Drive West. Combined, the projects have an estimated total budget of $21.3 million.
“We’ve heard the challenges residents are faced with in this part of the city,” says Mayor Chris Spearman. “We also know it’s the fastest growing area of Lethbridge and we want to ensure we have a safe and efficient road system for the community.”
The completion of Metis Trail will reduce Fire and EMS response times to Country Meadows and Garry Station, increase access to new subdivisions, reduce traffic in Indian Battle Heights and improve overall traffic flow.
Whoop-Up twinning will accommodate traffic flow anticipated from the completion of the ATB Centre (Leisure Complex), a new elementary school and the Crossings commercial development. It will also allow for continued growth in the Crossings and Copperwood communities.
As part of the City of Lethbridge’s current Capital Improvement Program (CIP), construction of Whoop-Up twinning would not be completed until 2022 and Metis Trail in 2024. In order to move these projects forward, council voted to amend the current CIP with the new 2017 timelines.
The City will implement a funding strategy for the project that includes using internal reserves and borrowing to finance the project. This plan takes advantage of the current low interest rates and competitive construction pricing and avoids future inflation costs. The strategies will not impact tax rates and no other City projects are being affected.
“We are pleased to also have the support from the Urban Development Institute, which represents the land development industry, for accelerating these two projects,” says Mayor Spearman.
As a next step, the City will issue requests for proposals for these projects this fall and construction work is anticipated to begin in spring of 2017.
Whoop-Up Drive is a major east-west arterial roadway connecting West Lethbridge to East Lethbridge and Metis Trail will become a major north south arterial roadway similar to University Drive.