The Terwillegar Drive on-ramp to Whitemud Drive will be closed longer than the city originally stated.
The Terwillegar Drive on-ramp to Whitemud Drive westbound/northbound was closed Monday night as part of the 53rd Avenue overpass rehabilitation. The City of Edmonton originally said the on-ramp would be closed for four days, until May 6.
However, the city said Tuesday it will actually be closed for upwards of 16 days.
Alternate routes include 119 Street to the Whitemud, or continuing further north to Fox Drive in order to avoid the bridge construction.
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Terwillegar Drive is the major route in and out of the city’s deep southwest. The area has seen a huge population boom since the turn of the century, and in turn an increase in traffic volume. As of 2014, around 40,000 vehicles drive the six kilometre stretch each day, according to a city report.
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The 53 Avenue overpass is located just north of where Terwillegar Drive and Whitemud Drive intersect. The city said it has a plan in place to try and mitigate the traffic congestion caused by the construction work.
But area residents said last month something needs to be done to fix the daily traffic woes too.
“The bigger problem is there’s no transportation plan for the southwest,” area resident Kathy Porenchuk told Global News last month, following a public meeting on the bridge rehabilitation work and its impacts.
“I’ve lived in this neighbourhood for 27 years and when I first moved in, there was a plan for traffic and overpasses, and how traffic was going to move in the southwest. Talking to the people today (March 9), they say it’ll be another 25 years before they change anything here. And yet, they keep building further, further into the southwest.”
Porenchuk said twinning some roads has helped, but still feels roads in the southwest are overcapacity.
“When I asked they said, ‘Well we’re working on LRT.’ Well there’s no LRT coming to the southwest. And so you’re maybe working on other areas of the city, but we all pay taxes here too.”
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More vehicles on the roads in southwest Edmonton has led to a spike in traffic problems. So much so, that last fall police assigned three traffic patrol officers to focus just on southwest area roads.
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“This isn’t simply about enforcement,” Edmonton Police Service Insp. Steven Chwok said last year. “We’re hopeful these new positions will help to increase safety and awareness on roadways throughout this section of the city.”
Between January and September 2015, Edmonton police’s Southwest Division received close to 500 traffic complaints, which is the highest in the city. In 2014, it received 744 complaints, also the most in the city, which was 26 per cent of all calls to police.
Construction on 53 Avenue bridge over Whitemud Drive Monday, April 4, 2016. Global 1 news helicopter
Construction on 53 Avenue bridge over Whitemud Drive Monday, April 4, 2016.
Global 1 news helicopter
Construction on the 53 Avenue overpass began last month. The project has already seen traffic reduced on the Whitemud, and caused closures on Terwillegar.
The city is giving the south Edmonton overpass a facelift in order to extend its lifespan. Most of the work on the project is expected to last from spring until fall with some additional work on 53 Avenue expected to take place next year.
First constructed in 1977, the overpass carries six lanes of traffic as well as two turning lanes and two pedestrian walkways over Whitemud Drive.
With files from Phil Heidenreich and Slav Kornik, Global News
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was first published on April 20, and updated on May 3.