Residents in Lethbridge will have an opportunity to provide direction on whether City Council should prioritize plans for a possible third traffic bridge crossing over the Oldman River.
On October 18, 2021, the General Municipal Election Ballot will have a question that reads:
"Do you agree that City Council should approve plans to construct a third bridge prior to 2030 as a municipal capital project priority?"
An election ballot question is non-binding and the next Council can potentially further debate direction moving forward based on question results.
In the 2022-2031 Capital Improvement Program (CIP) document on page C-21, it includes more information about the Chinook Trail River Crossing (Preliminary Design) project. 2022-2031 Capital Improvement Program (CIP)
On November 30, 2009, a presentation was provided to City Council with the results of the River Crossing Review and the Circulation Road Study.Lethbridge Circulation Road Study
The estimated capital cost of a third bridge would range from $175 to $200 million. This estimate is based on the assumption that construction would be completed in 2029 and operational in 2030. This estimated capital cost is based on the values provided in the 2009 Lethbridge Circulation Road Study, and have been inflated to 2029 using a historical average of the Alberta Consumer Price Index rate. A better estimate of cost will be determined once the Chinook Trail River Crossing Preliminary Design is completed.
If this project is approved, the City of Lethbridge will maximize the use of any external grants available at that time. The Government of Alberta has indicated that the Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) grant program will end in 2024 and the future Local Government Fiscal Framework (LGFF) grant details are unknown at this time. If this project is approved, City Council could decide to fully borrow for this project. If this borrowing occurred, the impact on the City's operating budget would be an additional $14.5 to $16.7 million in debt payments per year starting in 2030 for 15 years. This would result in an increase in the municipal tax portion of approximately 9% to 11% (or 2.25% to 2.75% per year for four years). This estimate is based on the current tax rate structure.
If this project is approved, there could be other opportunities to fund this project through Public-Private Partnerships (P3), toll rates, or other funding structures.
The estimated annual ongoing maintenance costs of the bridge (starting in 2030) would be $190,000/year. Maintenance costs includes items such as: street sweeping, snow removal, future overlay costs and bridge maintenance.
Greenhouse Gas (GHG) & Economic Impact
The estimated Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions is 512 t CO2e. Note: with or without a third river crossing, the greenhouse gases impact would not change since there would be slightly more vehicles but shorter vehicle trips.
In consultation with stakeholders, a comprehensive study would be required to determine the future economic benefit due to construction and post construction of this project. Due to time constraints this information is not available at this time.
Traffic Volume impact with Chinook Trail
The current and estimated average daily traffic volumes are provided below:
| Current Traffic Volume (2019):||Highway 3||Whoop-Up Drive||Chinook Trail|
|Average daily traffic (two-way volume)||27,190||45,383||N/A|
|Future Traffic Volume (2030):||Highway 3||Whoop-Up Drive||Chinook Trail|
|Average daily traffic (two-way volume)||37,644||56,522||16,644|
|Future Traffic Volume (2060+)||Highway 3||Whoop-Up Drive||Chinook Trail|
|Average daily traffic (two-way volume)||56,150||80,510||30,910|
Traffic Volume impact without Chinook Trail
|Future Traffic Volumes (2060+)||Highway 3||Whoop-Up Drive|
|Average daily traffic (two-way volume)||56,950||93,360|
Peak traffic times are from 7:00 to 9:00 am and 3:00 to 6:00 pm. The maximum peak hour is in the afternoon and is 10% of the daily traffic.