Ken­ney: pos­si­ble Crowsnest Pass coal deal may speed up other fu­ture High­way 3 twin­ning project

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - NEWS - By Ryan Dahlman

Al­berta News­pa­per Group

The news many peo­ple in Southern Al­berta have been wait­ing for came true July 2, par­tially.

As part of the $10-bil­lion in­fra­struc­ture spend­ing in the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment’s “Al­berta’s Re­cov­ery Plan”, there will a 46-km stretch be­tween Bur­dett and Taber which will be full twinned. It is sup­posed cre­ate 755 jobs.

The Gov­ern­ment of Al­berta in­di­cates that High­way 3 has ap­prox­i­mately 3,900 ve­hi­cles per day.

While in Brooks on a mini-af­ter­noon tour af­ter the ma­jor an­nounce­ment in Taber June 2, Premier Ja­son Ken­ney said in an in­ter­view with Prairie Post, that af­ter years of ad­vo­cates push­ing for the twin­ning of the high­way, the time was right to fi­nally get High­way 3 com­pleted.

“It has al­ways been a good project. What is dif­fer­ent now is prices and so we are surg­ing an un­prece­dented amount of money into job cre­ation though in­fra­struc­ture we want it to be shovel-ready in­fra­struc­ture so as to cre­ate jobs now and will in­clude long term pro­duc­tiv­ity and the di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion of Al­berta’s econ­omy,” ex­plained Ken­ney as he sat in a cof­fee shop in Brooks. “High­way 3 twin­ning ticked all those boxes. It ad­vances the vi­sion of Southern Al­berta be­ing this Canada’s pre­miere agri­cul­ture co­or­di­na­tor and will help grow the ag in­dus­try here so it just made so much sense in job cre­ation short term and long term strate­gic di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion.”

How­ever, there is a new player which could have a ma­jor in­flu­ence on fu­ture ad­di­tions to this twin­ning project.

“We are also work­ing on a po­ten­tial ad­di­tional met­al­lur­gi­cal coal mines in the Crowsnest Pass there are some big Aus­tralian multi­na­tional com­pa­nies that have struck a part­ner­ship with the Pi­ikani First Na­tion and (it’s) quite ad­vanced,” added Ken­ney. “We have been clear­ing the way of reg­u­la­tory hur­dles. We may see multi-bil­lion dol­lar cap­i­tal in­vest­ment in new coalmin­ers in the Pas and that would cer­tainly ac­cel­er­ate con­tinue twin­ning es­pe­cially on the west side of High­way 3. We want to move those po­ten­tial coal mines ahead as quick as we can. As I say, this 46-km stretch will be done in 2023. If we get a com­mit­ment on one of those big coal mines be­fore that, I think we may be able to ex­pand the twin­ning in the medium term rather than the long term.”

Ac­cord­ing to the Cana­dian Min­eral and Met­als Plan: “Met­al­lur­gi­cal coal, also known as met coal, cok­ing coal, or steel­mak­ing coal, is a vi­tal in­gre­di­ent for mak­ing steel, iron al­loy, car­bon and other met­als used in ev­ery­thing from build­ings, tools, trains, planes, and au­to­mo­biles, to cook­ware, cut­lery, sur­gi­cal tools and im­plants.”

It is dif­fer­ent than ther­mal coal more widely known for its power gen­er­a­tion ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

Cur­rently there a hand­ful of pass­ing lanes be­tween Medicine Hat and Taber but only for a few kilo­me­tres.

In ad­di­tion to twin­ning, there will be key in­ter­sec­tion im­prove­ments such as one at High­way 877 near Grassy Lake which 33 km east of Taber and 13 km west of Bur­dett.

The ques­tion of why that por­tion of High­way 3 was tar­geted and not the other from Bur­dett east was brought up or why not all. Ken­ney said it was due to two main fac­tors.

“It came down to a tech­ni­cal study of the area where there is the heav­i­est traf­fic, where there is the most fre­quency of ac­ci­dents and the great­est need. That stuff is not done ar­bi­trar­ily by politi­cians. It is based on the data,” ex­plained Ken­ney. “The whole project would be 250 (km) which would cost us over a bil­lion dol­lars. We just don’t have that kind of money. And also it takes time. So this project hope­fully will start next spring. They are go­ing to do the engi­neer­ing work now. Hope­fully they will be hav­ing as­phalt will be get­ting laid in the spring of 2021 but it won’t be done un­til 2023 and then we can as­sess if we are in a (fis­cal) po­si­tion on whether we ex­pand on that.”

Lamb We­ston’s plant is near the Fin­cas­tle area, of course there is the sugar beet plant and other agri­cul­ture busi­ness in Taber. There was an an­nounce­ment in late June re­gard­ing Ca­van­dish Farms and a new fa­cil­ity in Leth­bridge. An­other potato pro­cess­ing plant, McCain’s is also just off High­way 3 but is closer to Coal­dale. That stretch be­tween Coal­dale and Taber is al­ready twinned.

The High­way 3 Twin­ning De­vel­op­ment As­so­ci­a­tion was ob­vi­ously pleased with the news of the con­struc­tion plans for what they called their “Pri­or­ity 1” sec­tion.

“The High­way 3 Twin­ning De­vel­op­ment As­so­ci­a­tion is grate­ful for this sig­nif­i­cant progress to­wards the com­plete twin­ning of High­way 3. This project comes at a time when the cost to bor­row is low, the cost of con­struc­tion is com­pet­i­tive, and stim­u­lus for job cre­ation is high. We thank the Province for rec­og­niz­ing the sig­nif­i­cant re­turn on in­vest­ment and the pos­i­tive im­pact to the cit­i­zens of sur­round­ing mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, the truck­ing in­dus­try, and the agri­food pro­duc­ers and pro­ces­sors, just to name a few,” the as­so­ci­a­tion re­leased in a state­ment.

Other ma­jor play­ers with the lob­by­ing for twin­ning High­way 3 were equally as ex­cited.

“We are thrilled with the Pre­miers an­nounce­ment to twin High­way 3 from Taber to Bur­dett, as our As­so­ci­a­tion has been ad­vo­cat­ing for twin­ning since the 1970’s. Crowsnest Pass has been study­ing ex­pan­sion of their sec­tion for al­most 50 years, and our hope is that the Province will con­tinue with twin­ning along the re­main­der of the cor­ri­dor in the near fu­ture.” says Blair Painter Crowsnest Pass mayor and High­way 3 Twin­ning De­vel­op­ment As­so­ci­a­tion Sec­re­tary.

“Lamb We­ston is very ex­cited about Ja­son Ken­ney’s an­nounce­ment re­gard­ing the twin­ning of High­way 3 be­tween Taber and Bur­dett. This project will greatly im­prove the safety of our employees and vis­i­tors ac­cess­ing the fa­cil­ity from High­way 3, as well as the trans­port of goods ac­cess­ing in and out of our site.” says Lamb We­ston Plant Man­ager Scott Wo­j­tow­icz.

“The twin­ning of High­way 3, be­tween Taber and Bur­dett, will not only in­crease safety in the move­ment of goods, ser­vices and peo­ple but it will also be a ma­jor in­fra­struc­ture tool in help­ing es­tab­lish this busy cor­ri­dor as the agri-food hub of Canada.” added Grant Hunter, MLA for Taber-Warner.

Photo by Meghan Bren­nan, Town of Taber

Premier Ja­son Ken­ney makes the twin­ning of High­way 3 an­nounce­ment. To Ken­ney’s right is Rick McIver, Min­is­ter of Trans­porta­tion and to the premier’s left is Grant Hunter, MLA for Taber-Warner and As­so­ciate Min­is­ter of Red Tape Re­duc­tion. At the far right of the photo is Taber mayor An­drew Prokop.

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