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New mountain highway proposed between Red Deer and Kamloops

February 23, 2020 - 12:00 PM

An Alberta development group is pitching the idea of a new highway linking central Alberta to B.C. cutting through the mountains and a section of Banff National Park.

The Central Alberta Economic Partnership is renewing the discussion and looking to fund a feasibility study for the Howse Pass highway.

"There's a huge potential for this road," Central Alberta Economic Partnership vice-chair Jim Wood told "There are huge benefits to have a connection between Central Alberta and the Okanagan."

The proposed Howse Pass highway would run from Highway 1 roughly 30 kilometres north of Golden and travel northeast across the mountains to Saskatchewan River Crossing on Highway 93. The proposed highway would slice through roughly 30 kilometres of Banff National Park.

Wood, who is also the mayor of Red Deer County, said the idea of another highway cutting through the mountains and connecting B.C. with Central Alberta is not new. The last feasibility study took place in 2005 and estimated the economic benefits of another road at roughly $400 million.

Now the Central Alberta Economic Partnership, which is largely comprised of local politicians from the region, is looking for a new feasibility study to take place to access the viability of the project.

"We're at the process right now of looking at the dollars the study would cost," Wood said.

Wood points to the Coquihalla Highway, which began as a toll road, as a model that may work for the Howse Pass highway.

Wood said a feasibility study would determine whether or not the public would use the road and be prepared to pay a toll.

"The long and the short of it (is), if the highway is there it would need to be used and it would have to pay for itself," he said.

The distance from Red Deer to Kamloops is roughly 750 kilometres, a new highway would shave roughly 100 kilometres of the trip.

Woods wouldn't hazard a guess at how long it would take for the project to be complete, even in a best-case scenario.

"These are the sort of things that take years to develop," he said.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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