01/30/2014 08:08 EST | Updated 04/01/2014 05:59 EDT

Wood Buffalo, Alberta Government Finalize Land Deal


FORT MCMURRAY, Alta. - The Alberta government and the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo in northeastern Alberta have signed off on a land swap.

Under the agreement, Alberta will release properties in Saline and Parsons Creek to the municipality.

The tracts total about 167 hectares and will be provided in exchange for transportation upgrades which will be carried out and paid for by the municipality.

The deal will also transfer control and liability of a portion of Highway 69, extending from Saline Creek to Range Road 85, to the municipality.

The upgrades will be carried out over five years, and include completion of twinning on Highway 69 west of Saline Creek to Range Road 85, Highway 63 intersection improvements at Highway 69 and MacKenzie Boulevard and the addition of a Highway 63 and Thickwood Boulevard bus lane interchange.

Bus lanes will also be added to Highway 63, allowing for transit travel on the shoulder of the highway between 69 and the Hospital street interchange.

Highway 63 will be expanded to six lanes from Hospital Street to the river.

In addition, the province will manage construction of the Parsons Creek Interchange at Highway 63 to accommodate development of Parsons Creek for up to 13,000 residents, at the province's cost except for a bus on shoulder enhancement that the Municipality has requested and will pay for out of the land sales proceeds.

The estimated cost to the municipality stands at $131.8 million, but administration says proceeds from the resulting land sales will provide the backing required.

The plan will be tabled in council chambers on Tuesday night.

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