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Provincial Highway Planning: Economic Impact Considerations

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Provincial Highway Planning: Economic Impact Considerations

Trade & Transportation - Provincial Policy

Alberta Transportation plans, designs, builds, operates, and maintains provincial highways. When new highways are in the design stage, the department conducts a functional planning study of the highway corridor.

Functional studies involve long-term planning and consider standards based on provincial and/or national highway standards (in the case of interprovincial highways). Studies are usually carried out on contract by a consultant on behalf of Alberta Transportation. 

Alberta Transportation encourages people in communities affected to provide issues and concerns with a proposed project. It also mandates the consultant to hold open house sessions during the course of a study. Each consultant is provided with a “mandate” or “scope of work” for the functional study. In the case of free-flow highways in Alberta the scope of the usual study focuses on these areas: 

  • Recommend the optimum plan for the highway corridor to provide free-flow travel. 
  • Evaluate all technically feasible highway routes. 
  • Identify planning issues and develop a preferred plan based on public input and an understanding of the technical issues. 
  • Recommend short- to medium-term improvements of the existing highway. 
  • Document the results of open houses and the issues and concerns of the public. 
  • Address highway safety issues. 
  • Address highway capacity issues. 
  • Identify future right-of-way or access management. 

In the past the deputy minister has advised the Alberta Chambers that the impact on local business is not mandated to consultants as a part of a functional study. Alberta Transportation’s Business Plan for 2009-2012 Goal 1, states: “Alberta will have a prosperous economy by way of the ministry managing the provincial highway network to support economic and social development and help rural municipalities address new resources and industry-related traffic.”


The Alberta Chambers of Commerce recommends the Government of Alberta:

  1. Make potential economic and social development impacts of free-flow highways on local business and local municipalities considered with Alberta Transportation’s current Business Plan for 2009- 2012 a key part and high priority of the Alberta Transportation functional study scope of work.
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