Highway 881 work will improve safety and congestion

Transportation Minister Ric McIver was in Fort McMurray to announce the province will invest more than $50 million in safety and travel upgrades to Hwy. 881, including 14 passing lanes.

The province will spend more than $50 million over the next four years to add passing lanes, build a new staging/rest area, and improve intersections and roadside turnouts along the route between Lac La Biche and Anzac.

“We are focused on growing our economy and getting Albertans back to work, and our Blueprint for Jobs is our plan to bring jobs and job creators to Alberta through targeted investments in key infrastructure. Highway 881 is an important route for heavy trucks, equipment and passenger vehicles moving north into Alberta’s oilsands. Upgrading this highway will make travel easier for drivers on this route by building passing lanes to get around the heavy and super-heavy equipment heading to our oilsands regions. Improving Highway 881 will also encourage future investment in our energy sector by making it easier to move into and out of northern Alberta.”

Ric McIver, Minister of Transportation

The 37-kilometre project, which is part of government’s A Blueprint for Jobs, starts southeast of Fort McMurray. Currently there are no passing lanes in either direction along this stretch of highway.

“Highway 881 is an important transportation route within our region. This project will not only improve the safety of all those who travel along this route, it will expand economic opportunities for the communities and projects along this highway. This much-needed upgrade, including passing lanes, will improve the lives of those who live and work in this region.”

Laila Goodridge, MLA for Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche

Engineering and design work for this project is underway.

“This is very positive news for our region. We thank Minister McIver and the Alberta government for this key investment in transportation infrastructure that will benefit our communities, enhance public safety and support economic growth for industry, workers, and all of us. Premier Kenney, Minister McIver and the Alberta government understand the importance of our region to the rest of Alberta and this funding announcement demonstrates their commitment to our residents and our communities.”

Don Scott, mayor, Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo

Construction on the project is slated to begin in 2022.

“This is great news for the members of the Coalition for Safer Alberta Roads and all road users on Highway 881. We are very pleased to hear about the commitment this government is making to improve the infrastructure on our highways. Highway 881 is a lifeline for many communities in the region and it is where a large number of our members' operations are located. I have a deep respect for everyone involved in finding the budget and resources for the long-awaited improvements to Highway 881.” 

Debbie Hammond, executive director, Coalition for Safer Alberta Roads

This announcement is part of government’s A Blueprint for Jobs, a plan to bring jobs and investment back to Alberta and restore the province’s position as the best place in the country to live, work, start a business, and raise a family. The Government of Alberta is focused on creating jobs, growing the economy and getting Alberta back to work.

Quick facts

  • Until 2006, Highway 881 was a two-lane gravel road with narrow shoulders. Some sections still have narrow shoulders that become congested with high volumes of heavy and over-sized loads.
  • Upgrades will provide better access to new developments along this stretch of Highway 881.
  • This project is expected to create:
    • 145 direct jobs
    • 100 indirect jobs

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