Alberta Highway 3
Major highways of southern Alberta with Highway 3 highlighted in red
|Length:||324.11 km (201.39 mi)|
|Existed:||October 8, 1917 – present|
|West end:||BC 3 in Crowsnest Pass|
|East end:||Hwy 1 / 41A in Medicine Hat|
Alberta Provincial Highway No. 3, commonly referred to as Highway 3 and officially named the Crowsnest Highway, is a 324-kilometre (201 mi) highway that traverses southern Alberta, Canada. It runs from the Crowsnest Pass through Lethbridge to the Trans-Canada Highway in Medicine Hat and forms the eastern portion of the interprovincial Crowsnest Highway that runs from Hope, British Columbia to Medicine Hat and serves as an alternate route to the Trans-Canada from the Lower Mainland to the Canadian Prairies.
Highway 3 begins as a two-lane road in the Canadian Rockies at Crowsnest Pass, winding through the foothills to a junction with Highway 2 west of Fort Macleod. Briefly concurrent with Highway 2, it becomes a divided highway and part of Alberta's "Export Highway", a segment of the CANAMEX Corridor that stretches from Alaska to Mexico. In Lethbridge it is an expressway named Crowsnest Trail that crosses the Oldman River and meets the northern termini of Highways 4 and 5; the former is a major route that assumes the designation of the Export Highway, connecting to Interstate 15 in Montana, while the latter branches southwest to Magrath and Cardston. Leaving Lethbridge, Highway 3 passes through Coaldale and Taber before reverting to a two-lane highway that ends at Highway 1 in Medicine Hat.
For its entire length, Highway 3 follows the alignment of the Canadian Pacific Railway. It was first a rough dirt road known as the Red Trail plotted in the early 1900s. Later numbered as Highway No. 3, it was designated as a southern branch of the former Trans-Canada Highway by the 1920s and improved to gravel then eventually paved, widened with shoulders, and upgraded to an expressway in sections. The Trans-Canada was officially routed through Calgary in the 1960s, but Highway 3 remained an important alternate route to the west coast and was incorporated into the National Highway System in 1988. Twinning of the first segment between Lethbridge and Coaldale had been completed by the mid-1960s, and it was officially named the Crowsnest Highway in the late 1970s. A major expressway realignment along Crowsnest Trail in central Lethbridge was completed in the 1980s, and twinning of the Fort Macleod–Lethbridge segment was completed in the mid-1990s.
Alberta Transportation has long-term plans to upgrade the entire route to a freeway; the work will include twinning west of Fort Macleod and east of Taber, and an eventual elimination of at-grade intersections. Plans have been drafted for a free-flowing bypass of Lethbridge that will realign Highways 3 and 4 to the north and east of the city respectively, and a future Fort Macleod bypass will realign Highway 3 to the south of the town connecting to a newly extended Highway 2. Funding has not yet been allocated for any of the future upgrades, nor any potential timeline for the projects.
- 1 Route description
- 2 History
- 3 Future
- 4 Major intersections
- 5 See also
- 6 Notes
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Highway 3 was designated as one of the original core routes of the National Highway System in 1988, an interprovincial route connecting large population centres. Most of the road is an undivided two-lane highway with a speed limit of 100 km/h (62 mph) outside of rural areas. From Fort Macleod to West Lethbridge and from Coaldale to Taber it is a divided highway with a speed limit of 110 km/h (68 mph). Highway 3 is a divided expressway between Fort Macleod and Lethbridge that forms a portion of Alberta's Export Highway, a segment of the CANAMEX Corridor that facilitates the movement of goods between Alaska and Mexico. The Fort Macleod–Lethbridge segment also comprises the westernmost portion of the Red Coat Trail, a historic route advertised as that which was travelled by the North-West Mounted Police in the late 19th century in their quest to bring order and peace to the region.
Crowsnest Pass and foothills
British Columbia Highway 3 is a two-lane undivided highway that becomes Alberta Highway 3 at the border in mountainous terrain, paralleling a branch of the Canadian Pacific Railway. It first crosses over to the south side of the railway and passes through the centre of Island Lake on a causeway, part of which is natural terrain. It curves through communities of the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass on the south side of Crowsnest Lake, crossing the Crowsnest River and reaching Highway 40 at Coleman. It continues alongside the railway through Blairmore, again crossing the Crowsnest River and bisecting the community of Frank and the rubble of the Frank Slide, a major landslide that killed more than 70 people in 1903. The highway, the Crowsnest River, and the railway meander east into the Municipal District of Pincher Creek No. 9 and Burmis from which Highway 507 splits south to Beaver Mines and forms an alternate route from the west into Pincher Creek. Highway 3 curves northeast to the hamlet of Lundbreck which it bypasses, and from which Highway 22 begins and runs north. The first of four former alignments of Highway 3 (all of which are now designated as Highway 3A) passes through Lundbreck, splitting from Highway 3 prior to the hamlet and rejoining it 3 km (1.9 mi) later.
East of Lundbreck and Cowley, the highway crosses Castle River to Highways 6 and 785 north of Pincher Creek. It briefly parallels the creek for which the town was named before crossing it and reaching Brocket, and Highway 786 which meets Highway 507 southeast of Pincher Creek. Highway 3 follows the Oldman River to Fort Macleod, approximately 30 km (19 mi) east of Brocket. Just prior to Fort Macleod, the highway enters the Municipal District of Willow Creek No. 26 and Highway 810 splits south to the communities of Ardenville and Glenwood after which Highway 3 widens to a divided highway. It meets Highway 2 at a trumpet interchange, and diverges into a one-way road pair through Fort Macleod at a reduced speed limit of 50 km/h (31 mph), concurrent with Highway 2. Highway 811 turns north from Highway 3 in central Fort Macleod to cross the Oldman River on a historic alignment of Highway 2. At the Fort Macleod Health Centre, Highways 2 and 3 curve southeast to leave the town as the one-way roads rejoin into a divided highway. The concurrency ends as Highway 2 splits south as a two-lane highway to Cardston and the United States border at Carway. Highway 3 bends back to the northeast, now designated as the Red Coat Trail and carrying CANAMEX traffic destined for the primary border crossing on Highway 4 at Coutts.
The divided highway continues northeast from Fort Macleod with a speed limit of 110 km/h (68 mph), paralleling the Oldman River. It curves east to bypass Monarch to the south and crosses the river, entering Lethbridge County. Highway 3 formerly passed through Monarch until the 1990s construction of the bypass; that route is now designated as Highway 3A and meets Highway 23 east of the town which then joins Highway 3 north of the confluence of the Oldman and Belly Rivers. After curving southeast, Highway 509 splits southwest to Stand Off. Highway 3 intersects 51 Avenue, the main access for the town of Coalhurst. Westview Drive splits into West Lethbridge at a partial interchange and for less than one kilometre it forms the third route designated as Highway 3A. Highway 3 continues east, entering the city of Lethbridge as a freeway and meeting Highway 25/University Drive at a partial cloverleaf interchange. Highway 25 runs north to Picture Butte, while University Drive connects to the University of Lethbridge and is the main thoroughfare of West Lethbridge.
Lethbridge and southeastern Alberta
W of Ft. Macleod
|Hwy 4 / 43 St
Highway 3 is named Crowsnest Trail in Lethbridge. Immediately east of Highway 25 it descends into the Oldman River valley, entering city limits near a trumpet interchange at Bridge Drive. It then crosses the river as the speed limit reduces to 80 km/h (50 mph). The highway interchanges with 5 Avenue N and Scenic Drive in north Lethbridge. It passes north of Park Place Mall to a diamond interchange at Stafford Drive. The freeway passes over 13 Street, to which access is provided only from the westbound direction. The freeway section ends at an interchange with Mayor Magrath Drive, the northern terminus of Highway 5. Crowsnest Trail continues east as an expressway past several at-grade intersections to 43 Street, a busy thoroughfare on the eastern city limit of Lethbridge and the northern end of Highway 4. The Red Coat Trail and CANAMEX Corridor follow Highway 4 south out of Lethbridge, while a divided Highway 3 continues east to Coaldale with a speed limit of 100 km/h (62 mph), unlike the section west of Lethbridge which has a posted limit of 110 km/h.
The Crowsnest Highway bisects Coaldale, intersecting Highway 845 in the centre of town. The speed limit returns to 110 km/h as the divided highway continues northeast, then due east into the Municipal District of Taber. It bypasses Barnwell to the south, while the final former alignment designated as Highway 3A bisects the town. At the west end of the town of Taber, Highway 864 splits north to Vauxhall. Highway 36 then splits south to its southern end at Warner, while Highway 3 continues through the centre of Taber concurrent with Highway 36 until a signalized intersection at the east end of town where the latter splits north to Brooks.
East of Taber, the divided highway ends and the two-lane road continues east across the prairies of southern Alberta past the hamlets of Purple Springs and Grassy Lake into County of Forty Mile No. 8. After Burdett it crosses Highway 879 to the town of Bow Island. Before Seven Persons, the highway enters Cypress County and intersects Highway 887 as it veers northeast to enter the city of Medicine Hat from the southwest. It becomes a divided expressway called Gershaw Drive SW that passes north of the Medicine Hat Airport before ending at the Trans-Canada Highway (Highway 1). Gershaw Drive continues into downtown Medicine Hat as Highway 41A.
Many major highways in Alberta are predated by historic railway lines for significant portions of their length, including Highways 1, 2, 4, and 12 through 16. The inception of the trail that would become Highway 3 was similar, with the 1898 completion of a main line of the Canadian Pacific Railway spurring development in the Crowsnest Pass region. The railway connected Kootenay Landing near Creston, British Columbia to Lethbridge and was the primary method of transport until a rapid increase of private automobile use in the early 20th century. In 1926, major highways in Alberta began receiving numbers; previously all routes had been identified by coloured bands tied to telephone poles. The Red Trail officially became Highway 3 in 1932.
Highway 3 has existed in Alberta on generally the same alignment since the 1910s, with only relatively minor changes made to a rough road called the Red Trail that had been carved from Medicine Hat to Crowsnest Pass. Difficult terrain on the south shore of Crowsnest Lake was a major obstacle in connecting the road to the British Columbia border. On April 29, 1903, a major rockslide buried the town of Frank and killed dozens, blocking the existing Red Trail.:90 Work immediately began to clear the railway of debris, but a new trail north of the slide was created, connecting Frank and Bellevue.:91 By 1906, a road had been carved through the rock to the south of the railway, replacing the temporary trail.:91 A formal opening of the highway was held on October 8, 1917 in Blairmore. Officials had aimed for the ceremony to be held in September, but final work on the road had been delayed by the Canadian Pacific Railway who were unhappy with the location at which the highway crossed the railroad, causing the originally surveyed route to be altered. Minister of Public Works Charles Stewart had travelled from Edmonton for the event and stated that the highway was "the only natural route" for a trans-Canada highway, and would be in better condition if not for the difficult economic times. Canada was embroiled in World War I which ended in 1918, and gravelling of the highway began in the following years.
Gravelling and upgrades
Traffic in Alberta had always driven on the right, but British Columbia (BC) had driven on the left until 1921. The switch eliminated confusion that had been occurring on the road in the vicinity of the provincial border when traffic had to switch from one side of the road to the other.:71 The desire for a trans-Canada route that incorporated the Red Trail continued into the 1920s with the formation of the Trans-Canada Red Trail Association. Its president, Dr. O.F. Fansett, advocated for the road to be signed as "The Trans-Canada Red Trail" in addition to the existing red markings, and for the route be improved to an all-weather highway. By the late 1920s, the Red Trail remained a dirt road between Medicine Hat and Taber, but work began on gravelling the Lethbridge to Macleod section in late 1928 and was completed in January 1929. Crews then moved west and began gravelling between Pincher Station and Macleod. The mountain pass into BC was not open during the winter, nor was the dirt section between Taber and Medicine Hat that had not yet been gravelled. By 1928, the highway was envisioned to be part of a trans-Canada trail that stretched from Vancouver to Halifax. A 1929 map of major highways published by the Alberta Development Board listed Highway 3 as part of a southern branch of the Trans-Canada Highway that ran from Medicine Hat to Vancouver via Princeton and Spences Bridge in BC. This route included portions of present-day Highways 5A and 8, as construction of a road connecting Princeton and Hope did not begin until 1930. The northern branch connected Medicine Hat to Banff via Calgary.
Work was also on-going to upgrade the road east of Lethbridge. In 1927, the Red Trail between Coaldale and Chin was gravelled, and the upgrading continued further east to Taber in 1928. In 1929, delegates from various communities along the route met in Taber to advocate to the provincial government for gravelling of the Red Trail from Taber to Medicine Hat. The Taber to Bow Island section was completed between 1929 and 1931, and a similar meeting was held in Lethbridge in 1931 lobbying for the remainder. The group included local officials, farmers and residents who argued that the Red Trail connected key population centres and irrigation districts in southern Alberta, and was a component of an interprovincial route from Vancouver to Winnipeg. The route was better known by tourists, they claimed, and was the only highway to the west that could economically be kept open year-round. At this time, British Columbia had done work to their portion of the highway allowing it to remain open year-round so it was desirable for Alberta to follow suit. The general sentiment among southern Alberta officials was that the Red Trail was a shorter and more preferable route compared to the northern branch of the Trans-Canada through Calgary. Minister of Public Works Oran McPherson in 1934 announced that the section between Bow Island and Medicine Hat would be gravelled, permitting all-weather travel for the entire length of Highway 3. Along with similar work in southern Saskatchewan and the aforementioned British Columbia work, the project created an all-weather connection across the southern prairies. Through the rubble of the Frank Slide, a new route for the highway was carved north of the railway in 1932,:99 and paving of Highway 3 began in August 1939. The first stretch to be completed ran west from the top of the Oldman River valley hill in West Lethbridge near University Drive to Monarch.
The local road now designated as Township Road 7-0 is the historic alignment of Highway 3 across the Castle River west of Pincher Creek and immediately north of the Pincher Creek Airport. From the east, the highway paralleled the railway until Pincher Station at the junction with Highway 6, but then continued due west to cross the river approximately 2.7 km (1.7 mi) south of the present-day crossing. Highway 3 turned northwest, then west to pass through the south side of Lundbreck on a local road now named Township Road 7-4. West of Lundbreck, the highway briefly paralleled the Crowsnest River before crossing it near Lundbreck Falls. East of Lethbridge, Highway 3 was composed of sections of road that followed a grid system for long stretches, using only roads that ran due east or due north. Exiting Lethbridge, it followed a road now designated as Highway 512 to Coaldale, then turned north into Coaldale where it turned east. South of Tempest, it turned back north, then east near the hamlet of Chin. After following the vast majority of the present-day alignment alongside the railway to Seven Persons, it diverged from the railway and curved northeast into Medicine Hat.
In 1957, Lethbridge council met to discuss the expansion of Highway 3 between Lethbridge and Coaldale to a divided highway. Highway Minister Gordon Taylor in 1958 confirmed that Alberta would complete the project in the "near future" but did not have a definite timeline. Coaldale voiced opposition to an upgraded highway bypassing the town, fearing economic losses as traffic would be diverted away from the town. Citing safety and efficiency for motorists, Taylor stated that the province would prefer for major highways to not travel through towns, but extra mileage would not be created to accomplish this. Twinning work had been completed by the mid-1960s, and the divided highway bisected Coaldale. Work began in 1963 to upgrade the highway between Coaldale and Barnwell so it could carry loads up to 72,000 pounds (33 metric tons). E.C. Lonsdale, the chairman of the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce, stated that the region was at an economic disadvantage until the upgrade was completed. The final alignment for the upgraded highway through Barnwell had been confirmed by March 1966 with construction beginning shortly thereafter.
In 1965, the Chamber pressed Taylor for further upgrades to the highway, including safety improvements to intersections and the construction of adequate shoulders. Taylor stated that the province was doing its best to improve the road, but funds were being spread among other important highway projects in the province. "Meanwhile, you must not forget you have a completely black topped road here, one that is equal to the best roads in some of the other provinces and the United States," Taylor said. Nevertheless, the Chamber was still concerned about the condition of the road, particularly in the Crowsnest Pass region where mountainous terrain and steep grades were making upgrades difficult. There was also concern about the diversion of traffic from Highway 3 to the Trans-Canada Highway, which would have a negative effect on the economies of southern Alberta municipalities.
Highway 3 underwent major realignment in the Lethbridge area beginning in 1966. The existing route along Westside Drive and Bridge Drive was to be replaced by a new four-lane expressway to the north, requiring new bridges over the CPR tracks and an interchange at Highway 25. Most of the interchange was built in 1966, but construction of the bridge carrying Highway 25 over the new Highway 3 lagged behind and opened the following year.:61 The twin bridges carrying the new Highway 3 over the CPR tracks west of Lethbridge also opened in 1967, as did a trumpet interchange further east at Bridge Drive on the west bank of the Oldman River.:61 The existing two-lane bridge over the Oldman River that had been constructed in 1946 was widened to four lanes, and a partial interchange at 5 Avenue N built by 1968 completed the realignment.:61 Highway 3 was now twinned from Monarch to Coaldale.
In Medicine Hat, plans were presented to city council for an expressway upgrade to the Trans-Canada Highway in September 1968. The upgrade would include the construction of a diamond interchange at the existing intersection with Gershaw Drive (Highway 3) and the widening of Gershaw to a four-lane road. The interchange had been constructed by summer 1976,:12 delayed several weeks by unstable terrain necessitating steel beams to supplement the concrete piles for the bridge.
Planning began in 1970 to establish a 4-lane corridor for Highway 3 near Crowsnest Pass. A route north of Coleman was first selected, later changed to the south in 1973 to avoid developed residential areas on the north side of Coleman. By the end of the decade, both the province and local municipality had endorsed the route. In the mid-1980s, the municipality asked the province to reconsider a route further to the north of Coleman, but it was deemed to be at an unacceptable grade. The alignment to the south of Coleman and Sentinel planned in the 1970s remains the preferred option for future upgrading.
Reconstruction of Highway 3 to a modern standard with shoulders continued in the 1970s. A 21.7-kilometre (13.5 mi) segment from Medicine Hat to west of Severn Persons was completed in 1973, with grading for another 21.7 km west of Seven Persons done in 1974. Several local Social Credit Party Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) expressed dissatisfaction with the rate at which the work was progressing and the reasoning given by Highways Minister Clarence Copithorne. He cited a labour shortage and the fact that provincial funds were being spread across multiple projects, and also the fact that drivers should not be subjected to overly lengthy construction zones. The MLAs disagreed, saying that Alberta's oil and gas revenue should be enough to expedite Highway 3 work, and that their constituents preferred for the work to be done sooner even if it meant longer stretches of the road would be under construction at a given time.
A group of southern Albertans called the Crowsnest Highway 3 Association met annually in the 1970s with the intent of promoting the highway and advocating to the provincial government for improvements. The group included local officials and residents who advertised Highway 3 as a rival to the Trans-Canada Highway and a more scenic route between the prairies and the west coast. Their efforts proved worthwhile; to attract travellers who might better identify with a route that has only one name, Alberta officially renamed Highway 3 as "Crowsnest Highway 3" in 1977 with British Columbia following suit for their portion through to Hope. Members of the Association collaborated with the government on new highway shields, a sign that denotes the designated number of the highway. They began to appear in both provinces by the end of the decade. British Columbia had its own shield and in Alberta two versions of the shield were initially erected; a white number 3 on a crow background within the shield, and a more standard Alberta highway shield with the usual black number on a white background, but with a crow perched on top peering down at the number. The first variant prevailed and remains unchanged through the 2010s. Long-term planning for a Highway 3 expressway was on-going near the end of the decade, with minor changes to the two-lane route near the BC border in the late 1970s.
At their 1979 meeting in Lethbridge, the Association pushed for wider recognition and advertisement of the Crowsnest route in tourism offices across Canada, and also hoped for the Crowsnest moniker to be expanded to include the Trans-Canada Highway from Medicine Hat to the Saskatchewan border. They would later create a 16-page brochure that highlighted points of interest along the Crowsnest Highway en route to Expo 86, a world's fair held in Vancouver in October 1986, again presenting it as a better alternative to the Trans-Canada Highway. In 1979, a group similarly lobbied for a named highway across the southern prairies including Alberta Highway 501 and Saskatchewan Highway 13. The Crowsnest efforts were used as an example of the traffic that could be brought to a route when it has a cohesive name.
Prior to construction of the Crowsnest Trail expressway in Lethbridge, the highway crossed the Oldman River then curved south underneath the High Level Bridge, following portions of 1 Avenue and 3 Avenue downtown. After several years of planning, a $50 million realignment of Highway 3 through the centre of the city was presented to city council by Calgary engineers in September 1981, receiving favourable comments. The new corridor was designated as one of several "Major Continuous Corridors" in the province. It involved the construction of a new four-lane expressway from 43 Street to the existing Highway 3 on the east bank of the Oldman River between North and West Lethbridge, and new interchanges at 5 Avenue N and Scenic Drive. The relocation of a Canadian Pacific Railway yard from downtown Lethbridge was required; it was moved to Kipp, west of Coalhurst. Construction was estimated to be completed by 1985, with the province paying for 90% of the project and the city covering the remaining 10%. Land acquisition was to cost between $2 and $12 million. Work began in 1983 and was completed in 1986. Interchanges were constructed on Crowsnest Trail at Stafford Drive, 13 Street and Mayor Magrath Drive at a cost of more than $50 million.
Before the four-lane bypass south of Monarch across the Oldman River was constructed, Highway 3 passed through Monarch and crossed the river southwest of the town on a bridge built in 1957.:64 This stretch is now designated as Highway 3A. The interchange at Highway 3A (then Highway 3) and Highway 23 near Monarch was completed in 1984.:61 Highway 23 had been shifted slightly west to eliminate two 90° bends in the route near Nobleford. The new interchange was initially criticized for being confusing, causing many drivers to make wrong turns. Counter-intuitively, traffic continuing westbound through the interchange on Highway 3 exited to the right, passing underneath Highway 23. Southbound traffic on Highway 23 turning west onto Highway 3 had to turn left across the westbound lanes to access the aforementioned single lane ramp. Macleod MLA LeRoy Fjordbotten promised improved signage and lighting for the interchange in early 1984. Fort Macleod Mayor Wes Olmstead was concerned that the interchange, along with upgrades of Highways 519 and 520, encouraged northbound traffic to use Highway 23 instead of continuing west to his community and using Highway 2. The towns of Pincher Creek and Nanton had similar concerns about the diversion of traffic caused by the new interchange. Transport Minister Henry Kroeger disagreed and thought the concerns were unwarranted; of Fort Macleod, he stated, "the town won't disappear as a result of the interchange." Alberta had long-term plans for Highway 23 to be twinned, and for the Monarch interchange to be expanded to a partial cloverleaf. The possibility of a southern Monarch bypass had already been identified by the mid-1980s.
An announcement for the construction of passing lanes on the two-lane Highway 3 between Monarch and Fort Macleod came in 1985, though Fort Macleod Mayor Olmstead stated the project was simply delaying the inevitable twinning that would be required for the route. He remained concerned about the loss of traffic to his community caused by the Monarch interchange, and was confident that twinning of Highways 2 and 3 would offset the loss. Twinning of both routes continued in the late 1980s.
Export Highway and east twinning
A bypass of Blairmore was completed in October 1983 after more than a year of construction. The highway was formerly routed down Main Street of the community (20 Avenue) at a reduced speed limit. At the east end of Blairmore, a new bridge over the Crowsnest River was constructed,:59 and the highway curves north around the community before rejoining the existing alignment west of the town. The $3.9 million project was estimated to save almost 15 minutes of driving time through Blairmore. Alberta Transportation estimated that work on a Coleman bypass would likely proceed within five years, but this did not come to fruition.
In 1989, Alberta announced plans to twin the entire length of the Export Highway, a name given to the southern portion of Alberta's north-south trade corridor that includes Highway 2 from Calgary to Fort Macleod, Highway 3 between Fort Macleod and Lethbridge, and the entire length of Highway 4 from Lethbridge to the United States border. The plan was for Highway 2 to be twinned first, followed by Highway 3 then 4. Highway 3 required twinning only from Fort Macleod to Monarch, as the remainder to Lethbridge had already been completed. Work included the construction of two new steel bridges over the Oldman River in 1996 which formed a bypass to the south of Monarch.:61 The former alignment of the highway through Monarch was re-designated as Highway 3A, relegating the previously controversial interchange at Highway 23 to service of local Monarch traffic. Travellers continuing west on Highway 3 toward Fort Macleod from Lethbridge no longer had to exit the highway and reduce their speed to navigate a single lane ramp, and were not at risk of missing the exit and accidentally proceeding north on Highway 23 toward Vulcan. Twinning on Highway 3 west of Monarch continued into 1997 and was completed at a cost of $31 million.
Though Alberta had prioritized the Export Highway, twinning work was also progressing east of Coaldale in the mid-1990s. Alberta Transportation minister Steve West announced in 1995 that Barnwell would not be bypassed, and the twinned highway would instead continue on its existing alignment through the centre of the village at a reduced speed limit. Some members of the community opposed the decision, citing increased vehicular safety of the recommended bypass alignment south of the village, and a safer environment for pedestrians who would not have to cross highway traffic. Representatives from Barnwell acknowledged that bypassing the town might be detrimental to growth of the community. Local MLA Ron Hierath stated that residents who lived north of the old highway were in favour of the bypass being constructed to the south of the town, while residents on the south side preferred the alignment through the centre of the town. Amidst the controversy, the decision was later reversed by West, and the twinned Highway 3 was constructed south of Barnwell with the former alignment designated as Highway 3A. After a slight delay in 1995, twinning continued in 1996 and had been completed to Cranford by the end of 1997, and to Taber by the end of the decade. In 1999, Infrastructure minister Ed Stelmach stated that twinning the remainder of the highway from Taber to Medicine Hat was not a priority, despite pleas from local officials.
Alberta Transportation has long-term plans to upgrade the entire length of Highway 3 to a freeway, requiring major bypasses of Fort Macleod and Lethbridge. The proposed route for the Lethbridge bypass would split from Highway 3 west of Coalhurst, running north past the town to a new interchange at Highway 25. It would continue east across the Oldman River on new bridges, bypassing Lethbridge to reach a newly extended Highway 4 (temporarily designated as Highway 4X) northeast of Lethbridge. It would rejoin the existing highway east of Chin.:11 A freeway upgrade of Crowsnest Trail was considered, but would require extensive reconstruction and demolition within the corridor through Lethbridge, and twinning of the existing bridge across the Oldman River. The city of Lethbridge expressed their disapproval of this alignment, eliminating it early in the study process.:5
A functional planning study was completed in 2008 to identify the optimal alignment for the Fort Macleod bypass.:1 The preferred alignment has the new Highway 3, temporarily designated as Highway 3X, splitting southeast from the existing Highway 3, west of the intersection with Highway 810. It would meet a newly extended Highway 2 at an interchange southwest of Fort Macleod before continuing to a second interchange with the existing two-lane section of Highway 2 between Fort Macleod and Cardston.:19 Stage 1 of the project would include only the Highway 2 bypass, with the extension to Highway 3 west of Highway 810 completed in Stage 2.:21 A Medicine Hat bypass of the Trans-Canada Highway (Highway 1) is also proposed, which would involve the construction of a large interchange with directional flyovers at Highway 3 and the newly realigned Highway 1 southwest of Medicine Hat.
A 2004 study assessed the reduction of accesses to Highways 3 and 36 in Taber as a stopgap measure until a bypass of the town is constructed. Highway 3 currently has a speed limit of 50 km/h (31 mph) and seven at-grade intersections in Taber. In April 2008, Alberta Transportation published a study analyzing twinning and potential changes to the alignments of Highways 3 and 6 in the vicinity of Pincher Creek, including the construction of a diamond interchange at Highway 6. Residents who could be affected by the changed routes were consulted as part of the study.
In 2010, a study plotted the routing of a bypass to the north of Seven Persons with plans for a diamond interchange at Highway 887. A 2013 study identified the preferred alignment for a freeway bypass of Burdett and Bow Island, likely to be operated as a divided expressway until the freeway is completed long-term. Both towns would be bypassed to the south, with an interchange constructed at Highway 879.
|Continues as BC 3 west (Crowsnest Highway) – Fernie, Cranbrook|
|||0||0.0||Alberta – British Columbia border
Crowsnest Pass – el. 1,358 m (4,455 ft)
|Coleman||16||9.9||Hwy 40 north (Forestry Trunk Road)|
|Blairmore||18||11||20 Avenue east|
|21||13||20 Avenue west|
|Frank||24||15||153 Street||Passes Frank Slide|
|Bellevue||26||16||9 Avenue / 213 Street||Access to Hillcrest|
|||30||19||East Hillcrest Drive||Access to Hillcrest|
|M.D. of Pincher Creek No. 9||Burmis||35||22||Hwy 507 south – Beaver Mines|
|||40||25||Hwy 3A east – Lundbreck Falls||Hwy 3A is unsigned|
|||42||26||Hwy 22 north – Longview, Black Diamond, Turner Valley|
|||48||30||Hwy 3A west||Hwy 3A is unsigned|
|Cowley||52||32||Hwy 510 north|
|Pincher Station||62||39||Hwy 6 south / 3rd Avenue – Pincher Creek, Waterton Park, U.S. Border|
|Piikani I.R. 147||Brocket||77||48||Hwy 786 south|
|M.D. of Willow Creek No. 26||||104||65||Hwy 810 south – Glenwood|
|||105||65||Divided highway begins|
|Fort Macleod||106||66||Hwy 2 north (Exit 89) – Calgary||Western end of Hwy 2 concurrency|
|108||67||One-way road pair begins|
|109||68||Hwy 811 north (6 Avenue)|
|110||68||One-way road pair ends|
|111||69||Hwy 2 south – Cardston, U.S. Border||Red Coat Trail designation begins
Eastern end of Hwy 2 concurrency
|||132||82||Hwy 3A east to Hwy 23 north – Monarch, Vulcan||Eastbound access to Hwy 23.|
|Willow Creek–Lethbridge County line||||134||83||Crosses Oldman River|
|Lethbridge County||||138||86||Hwy 3A west / Hwy 23 north – Monarch, Vulcan||Partial interchange
Westbound exit, eastbound entrance
|Kipp||146||91||Hwy 509 south / UAR 205 north – Stand Off|
|Coalhurst||148||92||51 Avenue||Coalhurst access road|
|City of Lethbridge||151||94||Westside Drive W||Partial interchange; Eastbound exit, westbound entrance
Unsigned Hwy 3A
|153.1||95.1||Hwy 25 north / University Drive W south – West Lethbridge, Picture Butte||Partial cloverleaf interchange|
|155.0||96.3||Bridge Drive W (Former Hwy 3A west)||Trumpet interchange|
|155.4||96.6||Crosses Oldman River|
|155.6||96.7||Access road to Oldman River valley|
|156.1||97.0||5 Avenue N (to Scenic Drive)||Eastbound exit, westbound entrance|
|156.3||97.1||1 Avenue S to Hwy 4 / Hwy 5 – City Centre||Eastbound exit only|
|156.8||97.4||Scenic Drive||Westbound exit, eastbound entrance|
|158.5||98.5||13 Street||Westbound to northbound exit only|
|159.2||98.9||19 Street (to 3 Avenue S)||Eastbound exit/entrance|
|159.4||99.0||Mayor Magrath Drive (Hwy 5 south) – Lethbridge Airport, Cardston|
|161.4||100.3||1 Avenue S to Hwy 4 south / Hwy 512 east||Eastbound exit only|
|161.8||100.5||43 Street (Hwy 4 south) to I‑15 south / Hwy 843 north – Coutts, U.S. Border, Great Falls, Montana||Red Coat Trail and CANAMEX Corridor follow Hwy 4 south|
|Lethbridge County||Coaldale||173||107||Hwy 845 (20 Street) – Lomond, Raymond|
|M.D. of Taber||||198||123||Hwy 3A east – Barnwell|
|||202||126||Hwy 3A west – Barnwell|
|Taber||207||129||Hwy 864 north (Park Road) – Vauxhall|
|208||129||Hwy 36 south – Warner||Western end of Hwy 36 concurrency.|
|210||130||Hwy 36 north (64 Street) – Vauxhall, Brooks||Eastern end of Hwy 36 concurrency.|
|211||131||Divided highway ends|
|Grassy Lake||242||150||Hwy 877 south – Skiff|
|County of Forty Mile No. 8||Burdett||254||158||Main Street|
|||260||160||Hwy 879 – Foremost|
|Bow Island||266||165||Centre Street|
|||285||177||Hwy 885 south – Etzikom|
|Cypress County||Seven Persons||301||187||Hwy 887 south – Orion|
|City of Medicine Hat||321||199||Hwy 523 west (Holsom Road SW)|
|322||200||Viscount Avenue SW – Medicine Hat Airport|
|323||201|| Hwy 1 (TCH) – Calgary, Swift Current, Regina
Hwy 41A east (Gershaw Drive SW) – Downtown Medicine Hat
|Diamond interchange; through traffic follows Hwy 41A|
|1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi
Route map: Google
- Alberta Transportation publishes yearly traffic volume data for provincial highways. The table compares the AADT at several locations along Highway 3 using data from 2016, expressed as an average daily vehicle count over the span of a year (AADT). In the trend column, a red arrow indicates a decrease in volume compared to 2015, and a green arrow indicates an increase.
- "New Road is Formally Opened". Blairmore Enterprise. October 12, 1917. p. 1. Retrieved February 5, 2017 – via University of Alberta.
- "2016 Provincial Highway 1-216 Progress Chart" (PDF). Alberta Transportation. March 2016. Archived (PDF) from the original on November 12, 2016. Retrieved November 12, 2016.
- "National Highway System". Transport Canada. December 20, 2011. Archived from the original on April 2, 2012. Retrieved December 20, 2016.
- Google (October 31, 2016). "Crowsnest Highway in Alberta" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved October 31, 2016.
- Bachusky, Johnnie (2003). Ghost Town Stories II: From Renegade to Ruin Along the Red Coat Trail. Altitude Publishing Canada Limited. ISBN 978-1-55153-992-8. Retrieved February 2, 2017.
- Alberta Official Road Map (Map) (2010 ed.). Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation. § N-5, N–6, N-7, N–8.
- Google (October 31, 2016). "Crowsnest Highway in southwestern Alberta" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved October 31, 2016.
- Google (January 1, 2017). "Crowsnest Highway in southern Alberta" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved January 1, 2017.
- "Alberta Highways 1 to 986 - Traffic Volume History 2006–2015" (PDF). Alberta Transportation. February 18, 2016. pp. 20–23. Retrieved October 25, 2016.
- "Information Map" (PDF). City of Lethbridge. Archived (PDF) from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved January 23, 2017.
- "Map of the province of Alberta, Canada.". Peel's Prairie Provinces - University of Alberta. Edmonton: Department of Lands and Mines. 1931. Retrieved December 3, 2016.
- "Crowsnest Pass Historical Driving Tour: Blairmore" (PDF). Alberta Culture and Multiculturalism. 1990. p. 3 (of PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on April 22, 2015. Retrieved January 4, 2017.
- Zdeb, Chris (February 22, 2014). "Feb. 22, 1928: Gravel road from Edmonton to U.S. border to be completed in a few months". Edmonton Journal. Postmedia Network Inc. Archived from the original on March 6, 2014. Retrieved February 23, 2014.
- "Motor roads in Western Canada and United States connections leading to Calgary & Canadian Rockies (21 MB)". Alberta Development Board. 1929. Retrieved November 12, 2016 – via University of Calgary.
- "New Road To Be Formally Opened During Thanksgiving Week". Blairmore Enterprise. September 21, 1917. p. 1. Retrieved February 5, 2017 – via University of Alberta.
- Haig, Bruce (1952). "A History of the Crow's Nest Pass". Retrieved February 11, 2017 – via University of Lethbridge.
- Dyer, Gwynne (August 30, 2009). "A triumph for left over right". Winnipeg Free Press. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016.
- Griffin, Kevin (January 1, 2016). "Week In History: Switching from the left was the right thing to do]". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved January 11, 2017.
The interior of the province had changed to the new system in 1921.
- "Standardization of Red Trail is Urged". Blairmore Enterprise. June 18, 1925. p. 4. Retrieved February 5, 2017 – via University of Alberta.
- "Start Work on Macleod-Pincher Creek Section of Red Trail - Gravel Will Be All In Place Early in Coming Spring". Macleod Times. August 28, 1924. p. 1. Retrieved February 5, 2017 – via University of Alberta.
- "Pass Public Bodies Want Road Kept Open". The Lethbridge Herald. November 19, 1930.
- "Desire To Keep west Road Open". Medicine Hat News. August 22, 1934.
- "Linking Lethbridge Up With Great Tourist Highways". The Lethbridge Herald. March 31, 1928. p. 15.
- "To Shorten Crow Route To Coast 200 Miles". Blairmore Enterprise. June 5, 1930. p. 5. Retrieved February 6, 2017 – via University of Alberta.
- "Taber Good Roads Parley Adopts Strong Resolution On Gravelling; Urban And Rural Men Act Jointly". The Lethbridge Herald. May 31, 1929. p. 5.
- "Early Completion of Missing Link of Red Trail, Taber to Medicine Hat, Urged By Southern Boards of Trade". The Lethbridge Herald. January 8, 1931. pp. 1, 3.
- "Finish Southern Highway". The Lethbridge Herald. June 15, 1934.
- "Surfacing No. 3 Highway To Start Within Two Days". The Lethbridge Herald. August 16, 1939. p. 7.
- Google (August 2012). "Former Highway 3 near Lundbreck, Alberta". Google Street View. Retrieved January 3, 2017.
- "Highway move is opposed here". The Lethbridge Herald. September 12, 1957. p. 12.
- "Taylor Gives Answers To Highway Briefs". The Lethbridge Herald. November 6, 1958. p. 13.
- "Lethbridge, Alberta - West of Fourth Meridian (131 MB)". Surveys and Mapping Branch, Department of Mines and Technical Surveys. 1966. Retrieved November 12, 2016 – via University of Calgary, University of Alberta.
- "Highway 3 Construction Planned". The Lethbridge Herald. July 18, 1963. p. 9.
- "Highway Location Established". The Lethbridge Herald. March 19, 1966.
- "Brief Calls for Highway 3 Improvement". The Lethbridge Herald. October 28, 1965. p. 2.
- Van Ryn, Nick (August 2, 1966). "Highway Work Five Behind Schedule". The Lethbridge Herald. p. 10.
- "Transportation Infrastructure Management System - Existing Structures in the Provincial Highway Corridor" (PDF). Alberta Transportation. September 28, 2012. Retrieved November 22, 2016.
- "Expressway plan shown; cost to city $1,426,000". Medicine Hat News. September 6, 1968. p. 2. Retrieved February 20, 2017 – via NewspaperArchive.com. (Subscription required (. ))
- "Bird's eye view". Medicine Hat News. June 21, 1976. p. 2. Retrieved February 20, 2017 – via NewspaperArchive.com. (Subscription required (. ))
Construction of Medicine Hat's Trans-Canada Highway upgrading project continues with the Gershaw Drive underpass expected to be open to traffic within three weeks.
- "Existing Highway 3X Gazetted (Approved) in 1979" (PDF). Alberta Transportation. 2005. Retrieved January 23, 2017.
- Pollard, Gordon (April 25, 1974). "Highway 3 work won't go faster". Medicine Hat News. Edmonton. p. 2.
- Jang, Phillip (October 22, 1979). "B.C. Crowsnest road name urged". The Lethbridge Herald. p. 11.
- "Highway 3 promoters seek end to tourist hostility". The Lethbridge Herald. August 16, 1977. p. 10.
- "It's more than just Highway 3". Medicine Hat News. August 14, 1978. p. 3. Retrieved February 20, 2017 – via NewspaperArchive.com. (Subscription required (. ))
- "New highway signs to be placed by spring". Medicine Hat News. October 16, 1978. p. 2.
- "Something to Crow about". The Lethbridge Herald. December 8, 1978. p. 11.
- "Two-lane upgrade chief Pass concern". The Lethbridge Herald. October 22, 1979. p. 11.
- "Promotion tabled". The Lethbridge Herald. December 4, 1985. p. 5.
- "Crowsnest passes on highway glossy". The Lethbridge Herald. June 24, 1986. p. 3.
- Bly, David (August 21, 1979). "Jokes, pins and challenges traded as 200 boost south prairie link". The Lethbridge Herald. p. 9.
- "Urban Transportation in 1984". Alberta Transportation. 1984. pp. 45–49. Retrieved December 24, 2016.
- Scott, Peter (September 17, 1981). "Highway realignment plan gets favorable response". The Lethbridge Herald. p. B1.
- "Rail relocation plans advanced". The Lethbridge Herald. November 6, 1981.
- "'Killer' interchange queried". The Lethbridge Herald. January 7, 1983. p. 14.
- "Province may review Highway 23 route". The Lethbridge Herald. May 21, 1981. p. B1.
- Hart, Lee (February 8, 1983). "Tourist flow worries Fort Macleod". The Lethbridge Herald. p. 5.
- "MLA promises better signs for Highway 3". The Lethbridge Herald. January 24, 1984. p. 5.
- Lamb, Michael (January 3, 1984). "Highway 23 junction confusing". The Lethbridge Herald. p. 5.
- Chruscinski, Theresa (January 24, 1985). "Interchange seen as problem". The Lethbridge Herald. p. 5.
- Sarkadi, Laurie (March 3, 1986). "Highway changes opposed". The Lethbridge Herald. p. 3.
- Chruscinski, Theresa (March 29, 1985). "Paving, passing lanes planned for highway". The Lethbridge Herald. p. 1.
- "1988/1989 Annual Report". Edmonton: Alberta Transportation and Utilities. 1989. p. 7 (of PDF). Retrieved November 4, 2016 – via University of Alberta Libraries.
Development was completed on a proposal to twin the Export Highway (Highways 2, 3 and 4) connecting to the U.S. Border.
- "Blairmore bypass open for Highway 3 traffic". The Lethbridge Herald. October 6, 1983. p. 5.
- "Highway 2 section next on road twinning list". The Lethbridge Herald. February 12, 1991. p. 5.
- Ecklund, Janine (October 7, 1996). "Highway twinning cuts across southern Alberta". The Lethbridge Herald. p. 1.
- Mabell, Dave (August 16, 1997). "Highway projects speed on". The Lethbridge Herald. p. 1.
- "A village divided". The Lethbridge Herald. May 12, 1995. p. 4.
- Shurtz, Delon (April 26, 1996). "Highway 3 controversy splits Barnwell residents". The Lethbridge Herald. p. 1.
- "Highway twinning won't proceed". The Lethbridge Herald. April 20, 1995. p. 5.
- Drinkwater, Robert (November 16, 1999). "Highway 3 letter nixes twinning". Medicine Hat News. p. 3.
- "Highways 1 & 3 Network Functional Planning Study - Future Realignment - City of Medicine Hat - Executive Summary" (PDF). Stantec. Alberta Transportation. November 20, 2008. p. 5. Retrieved January 23, 2017.
... Alberta Transportation strives for a higher standard of roadway, and therefore seeks to protect the future Highways 1 and 3 for a 130 km/h design speed (110 km/h posted speed).
- "Highway 3:14 Functional Planning Study - West of Burdett to West of Seven Persons" (PDF). ISL Engineering and Land Services. Alberta Transportation. June 2013. p. 1. Archived (PDF) from the original on January 23, 2017. Retrieved January 23, 2017.
In the mid-2000s, Alberta Transportation (AT) identified the entirety of Highway 3 as part of the newly-designated freeway system.
- "Highways 3 & 4 - Lethbridge and Area NHS & NTSC Functional Planning Study - Final Report" (PDF). Stantec Consulting Ltd. Alberta Transportation. February 2006. Retrieved October 28, 2016.
- "HIGHWAYS 2 and 3 Fort Macleod Bypass Functional Planning Study" (PDF). McElhanney. Alberta Transportation. Retrieved June 20, 2016.
- "Highways 1 & 3 Future Realignment Functional Planning Study - Recommended Improvement Strategy Ultimate Stage" (PDF). Stantec. Alberta Transportation. November 20, 2008. Archived (PDF) from the original on May 31, 2016. Retrieved January 23, 2017.
- Gordon, Arthur (November 30, 2004). "Access Management Study - Highway 3 and Highway 36N: Town of Taber and Municipal District of Taber" (PDF). p. 2. Archived (PDF) from the original on March 9, 2014. Retrieved January 23, 2017.
- "Highway 3/6 Interchange Functional Planning Study" (PDF). Alberta Transportation. April 2008. p. 1. Archived (PDF) from the original on November 11, 2016. Retrieved January 23, 2017.
- "Highway 3 Future Twinning Study - Range Road 71 to West of Seven Persons - Technically Recommended" (PDF). Stantec. Alberta Transportation. June 7, 2010. Archived (PDF) from the original on January 23, 2017. Retrieved January 23, 2017.