(AEN) - The need for the 65th Avenue overpass has rightly been seen as a priority in Leduc for many years now.
A 65th Ave overpass will provide access to west of QE 2 will facilitate traffic flows and economic development in the area, especially of the south Airport lands (north of 65th) and of the commercial/industrial lands in Leduc just south of 65th Ave. We need to develop this commercial/industrial land to help build this source of tax assessment to keep Leduc financial strong and sustainable. Leduc also needs another link across the highway to accommodate increased traffic before the two current links reach their traffic flow capacity limits.
The City has made efforts in the past to lobby the Provincial government and highlight the case for 65th Ave. The Port Alberta group has also made efforts to bring focus and attention for this development. There has been some progress made and a functional study of the 65th Ave overpass has been approved and funded. But a study is just a first step.
With the formation and operation of the Capital Region Board, the processes for our advocacy efforts for the 65th Ave overpass will need to take on a different focus in the future. The Alberta Government (Alberta transportation) have asked the Capital Region Board to list and prioritize all the infrastructure needs within the Capital Region. Once this work is done in a year or two, the Alberta Government will fund projects in the priority sequence outlined by this study. This means if the 65th Ave. overpass is low on the priority list we could be waiting a very long time before we see this needed infrastructure built in Leduc. It is therefore very important that we do all we can to ensure that the Capital Region Board committee is well informed of the need and that we make it as easy as possible for the project to appear as desirable from a Regional perspective.
The other aspect to consider is that even those projects that are considered to be a higher priority have no guarantee of being undertaken any time soon. This is because the Alberta Government is facing many serious budget concerns and limitations.
We have to work hard and be creative in our advocacy efforts, but we also have to be realistic in terms of how soon this very needed overpass will be built. The Leduc area is one of the fastest growing ones in Alberta and in all of Canada. It is entirely appropriate that infrastructure investment by the Alberta Government is made here, where it is needed, and where it can facilitate the growth that will help fund Alberta's future income.
Not to speak for others but one possible solution might be to organize a consortium comprised of Leduc, the Airport, Leduc County and others to help pay for the 65th Ave overpass as a a P3 project, funded with private money and built by private firms, and paid for over 30 years. P3s are popular now with the Alberta government because it avoids the need for the Provincial Government to borrow more or to spend its scarce money.