M E S S A G E F R O M T H E D E P U T Y M I N I S T E R
The Road Ahead
Managing Alberta’s highways
By Rae-Ann Lajeunesse,
Deputy Minister of Transportation
Transportation is a vital contributor to Alberta’s quality
of life. Economies require dependable transportation
infrastructure to connect people to an array of goods,
services and jobs. Safe and modern highway systems also keep
people connected, helping to build stronger communities.
Before the oil discovery in Alberta in the late 1940s,
Alberta had a limited network of roads and bridges, railways
and small airports, supporting a mostly rural population
of less than one million. Today, Alberta has approximately
31,400 kilometres of provincial highways (28,200 kilometres
are paved, and equivalent to 64,000 lane kilometers), and
nearly 4,500 bridge structures, with an estimated replace-ment
value more than $60 billion. Alberta’s population has
also quadrupled, with the majority now living in urban areas.
Now, more than ever, the need for new roads and bridges
must be balanced with the need to maintain existing infra-structure.
Maintenance and rehabilitation of the province’s
aging infrastructure is critical. At the same time, emerging
technologies such as autonomous and connected vehicles will
require a more modern and inventive transportation system.
Innovative technologies are leading to the growth of
alternative fuel vehicles and unmanned aerial systems.
Alberta Transportation is using new technologies to improve
asset management, such as deploying drones to help in
bridge inspections, improving asphalt concrete pavement
mix design practices and using state-of-the-art products,
such as Portland GUL cements on a trial basis. Vehicle auto-mation
continues to advance, and communication tech-nology
has raised expectations for on-demand, real-time
information, such as what’s available through Alberta511.
Accommodating these technologies not only requires inno-vative
transportation infrastructure, but also much forward
planning to ensure the money that is spent today remains
a sound investment as the transportation network evolves.
Alberta Transportation works to understand the lifecycle
of road and bridge infrastructure through data collection,
continuous monitoring and evaluation to inform asset policy
development. This information is used to develop strategies
for capital infrastructure investments to maximize total net-work
Government has also been exploring alternative financing
methods to provide newer infrastructure, such as through
cost-sharing arrangements with local municipalities. The
project to twin Highway 40 south of Grande Prairie in
partnership with the Municipal District of Greenview and
County of Grande Prairie is a recent example of this.
Investing in the provincial highway network is a key part
of Alberta’s recovery plan in response to the effects of COVID-
19 and collapse of the price of oil. By maintaining roads and
bridges, providing infrastructure grants to municipalities and
investing in strategic projects, Alberta will get people back to
work, promote economic recovery and diversification, and
improve transportation safety. n
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