It’s something many people have been waiting quite a while for; 68th avenue is officially open.
The ribbon cutting ceremony was held this morning.
Mayor Bill Given says the first extension of 68th avenue took place in his earlier days on council in the early 2000’s.
“I remember it was such a significant project that I couldn’t help but think ‘Wow, this is going to be one of the most used roads in the city’ and, I think, time told that that was absolutely true. I don’t think anybody would have expected that we would need to go to four-lane standard so quickly, but it goes to show how fast Grande Prairie has grown over the last little while.”
He adds there will be many benefits from having this new connection.
“The major improvement that the 68 Avenue twinning allows is a freer flow of movement of people from one side of our community to the other. Obviously, with the increased traffic that we’ve seen since the opening of Eastlink Centre, the two high schools on the Community Knowledge Campus site, this southwest side of the city is becoming hugely important.”
Given says there was more to this project than just building a road.
“It was actually a removal of an old, rural cross-section road, which meant that it didn’t have storm sewers or gutters, didn’t have any curbs. The two new roads that exist are actually out of the road right-of-way, so, they had to build two completely new roads, deal with all the underground utilities, and there a number of major utilities in this area, which provided some major surprises.”
The project started last year, but did not finish until this year because of wet weather in 2016. Crews also found some abandoned, asbestos pipes that had to be removed. The pedestrian crossing on the bridge, landscaping and installing new street lights still have to be completed.