The government has released details of a big plan to help ease congestion on Alberta’s busiest highway.

Deerfoot Trail sees approximately 83,000 to 170,000 vehicles every day and Alberta’s Transportation Minister Brian Mason says the government is planning multiple projects that will help make for an easier drive.

During a media conference in Calgary on Thursday, Mason said the government plans to add another lane in both directions for 21 km along the highway, between Beddington Trail and Anderson/Bow Bottom Trail.

Multiple interchanges will also be upgraded with additional lanes at Memorial Drive, 17 Avenue, Glenmore Trail, Southland Drive and Anderson/Bow Bottom Trail.

“We want commuters to spend less time in traffic and more time with their families and loved ones,” Mason said in a release.

The long-term expansion plan is expected to create 2,330 jobs and $478M has been allocated to pay for the projects, coming from the Capital Plan.

Mason says the upgrades will take some time to design and doesn't expect any work being done until at least 2023.

The city is in the third phase of a Deerfoot Trail Study that began back in spring 2016.

The work is being done in partnership with Alberta Transportation and it resulted in five short-term recommendations for the route:

  • A new northbound on-ramp from 11 Street N.E.
  • “Jughandle” intersection at 32 Avenue/12 Street N.E.
  • Left-turn restrictions at McKnight Boulevard/12 Street N.E.
  • Northbound ramp connection between McKnight Boulevard and 64 Avenue N.E.
  • Southland Drive to Anderson Road/Bow Bottom Trail S.E. southbound basket weave

No funding has been approved for any of these recommendations.

According to the study’s website, there are two more rounds of public engagement planned for the project and they are expected to take place in the spring and the fall of 2019.

Final recommendations will be forwarded onto council in early 2020.

Deerfoot Trail is Calgary’s oldest highway, with the majority of the route built between 1971 and 1982.

The study focused on a 37.5 km stretch of the highway, including 20 interchanges and more than 40 bordering communities, within city limits.

It is also the only road in the city that allows a continuous north-south connection for drivers.

(With files from Mark Villani)