Temporary washrooms will remain at the Highway 2 rest stop north of Lacombe. It is hoped in the future there will be restaurants and other businesses that serve travellers located there. (Photo by Paul Cowley/Advocate staff)

Central Alberta Highway 2 rest stop first phase completed

Province still looking for rest stop businesses to serve travellers

The first phase of a new Highway 2 rest stop north of Lacombe is done but it may be a while before it offers a place for drivers to grab a bite to eat.

Construction on the $9 million Wolf Creek rest stop saw long turnoff roads built to make it safer to get in and to drive out and merge with highway traffic, additional lighting and a large parking area.

Earlier this year, Alberta Transportation sent out word it was looking for interested parties to enter into a long-term contract with the province to develop and operated up to 18 planned rest stops.

However, only one non-compliant response was received, Alberta Transportation and Economic Corridors regional director Mike Damberger told Lacombe County council in an update on area road projects on Thursday.

“We’re sort of back to square one on that initiative,” said Damberger.

The province is committed to ensuring there are washrooms at the rest area. Temporary washrooms on trailers are on site now and Damberger said either those or others like them will remain.

Jesse Furber, spokesperson for Transportation and Economic Corridors Minister Devin Dreeshen, said the Commercial Safety Rest Area (CSRA) project, which would include a partnership with private industry to expand amenities, is currently under review.

“The CSRA project completed an unsuccessful competitive proposal process, looking for interested parties to develop commercial facilities at existing highway rest areas,” said Furber in an email.

“The Wolf Creek rest area was included as a potential site under that request for proposals and Transportation and Economic Corridors is currently reviewing options to consider as we look to provide improved services for travellers at our rest areas.”

“The main intent of the CSRA project will be to improve safety on the provincial highway network, as well as improve the standard and quality of services for travellers. The CSRA project could see a number of government-owned safety rest areas upgraded to include higher standard facilities and will support industry, Albertans, and tourism more broadly.”

The province sees the highway rest stops as places for highway travellers to take a break, wait safely during adverse conditions, and address general travel needs.

“Transportation and Economic Corridors recognizes these benefits, as well as the added benefit of providing a place for commercial vehicles to complete load and safety checks.”

There are nearly 400 provincial rest areas and the province continues to look for opportunities to add to amenities along highways.

Similar rest areas have proven successful in other jurisdictions around North America.

Ontario’s En Route stops typically offer a variety of fast-food choices, as well as a gift/grocery store and public washrooms. They also provide access to gas stations and create a safe places for cars and trucks to pull over, address vehicle issues, and the need for rest — something that’s legally required for long-haul truckers.

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