Economic corridor development

Information on the corridors that run throughout Alberta and connect to other jurisdictions through nation-building infrastructure.

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In addition to the National Highway System, Alberta’s economic corridors include:

  • 2 trade corridors that help move people and products across the province
  • a High Load Corridor Network that supports the movement of oversize and overweight loads

National Highway System

The National Highway System was defined and endorsed by the Council of Ministers in 1988. The system includes more than 38,050 km of core, feeder and northern/remote routes across Canada (4,480 km of these in Alberta) that support inter-provincial and international trade and travel by connecting, as directly as possible, a capital city or major provincial population or commercial centre in Canada with:

  • another major provincial population or commercial centre
  • another major population or commercial centre in an adjacent province or territory
  • a major port of exit or entry with the United States
  • another type of transportation that is directly served by a highway, such as railway and airport terminals

View the map of national highways in Alberta.

CANAMEX/North-South Trade Corridor

The CANAMEX/North-South Trade Corridor is the north-south portion of the National Highway System in Alberta. The corridor links the Coutts, Alberta and Sweetgrass, Montana port of entry to the Alberta and British Columbia border on Highway 43.

The corridor includes:

  • approximately 1,150 km of Alberta’s provincial highway network
  • parts of Highways 4, 3, 2, 201, 216, 16 and 43

Goals of the CANAMEX/North-South Trade Corridor are to:

  • improve access for the north-south flow of goods and people
  • increase transport productivity and reduce transport costs
  • support efficient connections between intermodal transport sites
  • reduce administration and enforcement costs through harmonized regulations

The value of Alberta’s international merchandise trade using the corridor has experienced significant growth. At the port of entry, for example:

  • Alberta exported goods valued at $4.46 billion to the US and Mexico ($4.3 billion to the US and $160 million to Mexico) by road through the port of entry in 2017
  • an estimated 98,000 trucks and 145,000 passenger vehicles crossed in 2018

Alberta Transportation and Economic Corridors has invested more than $2 billion in this important north-south trade link, including investments in the following projects:

Converting Highway 2 between Calgary and Edmonton to a full freeway

  • Highway 2 between Calgary and Edmonton provides a vital link between the two major urban centres and connects to other economic corridors across the province.
  • Since the 1970s, the route replaced the old Highway 2 (now Highway 2A) by bypassing the smaller communities and continued to be upgraded through twinning and replacement of most at-grade intersections with interchanges.
  • Only a few at-grade crossings remain before the link attains full freeway standard.
  • Most of the planning for further expansion and replacement of at-grade intersections is either complete or has been prioritized and construction work continues as funding becomes available.

Calgary Ring Road/Stoney Trail (Highway 201)

  • The Calgary Ring Road is part of the larger east-west and north-south trade corridors that enhance access to markets in and out of Alberta, supporting economic diversification and sustained economic growth.
  • The Calgary Ring Road provides more than 101 km of free-flow travel around the city of Calgary.
  • The Calgary Ring Road will fully open to traffic on December 19, 2023.
  • For more information, visit Calgary Ring Road.

Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216)

  • The construction of Anthony Henday Drive around Edmonton was completed in 2016.
  • The ring road provides a free-flow corridor operating at 100 kilometres per hour and spans 80 kilometres creating a vital link in Alberta’s economic corridors by safely and efficiently routing long-distance traffic to various areas within and through the city.
  • For more information, visit Edmonton Ring Road.

Other projects

Other projects completed along the CANAMEX/North-South Trade Corridor include:

  • enhanced services at the Coutts, Alberta and Sweetgrass, Montana port of entry, including the Single Joint Use Vehicle Inspection Station operated by Alberta and Montana to improve operations and efficiency
  • completion of major transportation projects, such as:
    • the Milk River bypass along Highway 4
    • Highway 43 twinning to east of Wembley

To help ensure Alberta’s competitiveness in the international marketplace and enhance tourism, continued investment in this high-efficiency, multi-lane corridor to access USA and emerging Mexican markets is essential.

Northeast Alberta Trade Corridor

A safe and efficient corridor to northeast Alberta is vital to the future prosperity of Alberta. The Government of Alberta has made significant investments in the highways leading to Fort McMurray and beyond, including major capacity upgrades through Fort McMurray.

The Northeast Alberta Trade Corridor includes:

  • approximately 500 km of Alberta’s provincial highway network
  • Highways 15, 28A, 28 and 63

East/west connections

East and west connections are important for allowing products to reach North American and global markets. Going west, these connections take our products to tidewater with access to global markets, particularly Asia. Going east, the corridors connect our products and resources with eastern North American markets (major centres in Canada and the US) and to tidewater through the Port of Montreal.

East/west connections include:

  • approximately 1,430 km of Alberta’s provincial highway network
  • Highways 1, 3, 16 and the Edmonton and Calgary ring roads

Highway 3

  • Highway 3 is an important corridor in southern Alberta that is experiencing economic growth, connects to international markets through the port of Vancouver, and can offer an alternate transportation route in times of emergencies like the 2021 flooding in British Columbia.
  • Planning for Highway 3 twinning, including bypasses, is complete from British Columbia to Medicine Hat, with the exception of planning for the section between Pincher Creek and Fort Macleod which is currently underway.
  • Bypasses of Highway 3 around Lundbreck, Monarch and Barnwell have been in place for years.
  • The twinning from Taber to Burdett is included in Budget 2022.
  • Future projects to twin Highway 3 between west of Seven Persons and Highway 523 and between Sentinel and east of Highway 507 have been submitted under the federal National Trade Corridor Fund.

High Load Corridor

The High Load Corridor, also called the Oversize and Overweight Corridor, is a network of designated highways where overhead utilities are raised or buried to accommodate high loads, and in many cases, heavy, wide and long loads. About 150,000 oversized and overweight permits are issued annually in Alberta.

Corridor development began in 1985. It now includes approximately 5,000 km of Alberta’s provincial highway network. The corridor plays an essential role in allowing Alberta companies to safely and cost-effectively manufacture products in large centres and transport them to their destinations.

Regional Economic Development Alliances

Alberta's Regional Economic Development Alliances (REDAs) are independent, non-profit organizations that work together to promote long-term economic development and prosperity in their region.

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