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Alberta Highway 4

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Alberta Highway 4.svgRed Coat Trail (Alberta).svg

Highway 4
Highway 4 highlighted in red
Route information
Length: 103.4 km[1] (64.2 mi)
History: 1912 (Sunshine Trail)
1947 (paved)
2009 (Divided expressway complete)
Major junctions
South end: I‑15 at Canada–U.S. border at Coutts
  Hwy 36 at Warner
Hwy 52 near Stirling
Hwy 61 near Craddock
North end: Hwy 3 in Lethbridge
Location
Specialized
and rural
municipalities:
Warner No. 5 County, Lethbridge County
Major cities: Lethbridge
Towns: Milk River
Villages: Coutts, Warner
Highway system

Provincial highways in Alberta

Hwy 3A Hwy 5
Northbound Highway 4, 2 km southeast of Lethbridge
Traffic volumes (2015)[a]
Location Volume ±
Coutts 2,270 Decrease by 200 AADT vs 2014
Milk River 2,580 Decrease by 260 AADT vs 2014
Warner 2,470 Decrease by 60 AADT vs 2014
Stirling 2,740 Decrease by 80 AADT vs 2014
Lethbridge
20 St S 13,880 Increase by 500 AADT vs 2014
S Parkside Dr 18,190 Increase by 540 AADT vs 2014
Hwy 3 15,100 Increase by 420 AADT vs 2014

Alberta Provincial Highway No. 4, commonly referred to as Highway 4, is a 103 km (64 mi) north-south highway in southern Alberta, Canada, connecting the interprovincial Crowsnest Highway in Lethbridge to Interstate 15 in Montana at the Canada–United States border. Highway 4 begins at Alberta's busiest border crossing in Coutts, winding north through gentle rolling hills and farmlands in the south of the province. It bypasses Milk River, Warner and Stirling before reaching Lethbridge where it becomes 43 Street and traffic significantly increases before the route ends at Crowsnest Trail on the east side of the city. First named the Sunshine Trail in 1912, the highway parallels an historic branch of the Canadian Pacific Railway built in the late 1800s that connected Lethbridge to Great Falls.

Relative to other divided highways in the province it is lightly travelled, but is designated as a core route in the National Highway System and forms part of the CANAMEX Corridor linking Canada to Mexico and the United States, including the major cities of Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and San Diego which lie on Interstate 15. Alberta Transportation has proposed a bypass of Lethbridge that would link Highway 4 to a newly aligned Highway 3 north of Lethbridge, making the CANAMEX Corridor free-flowing from Coutts to Fort Macleod. North of Highway 61, Highway 4 is signed as part of the Red Coat Trail, an historic route stretching from southern Alberta into Manitoba.

Route description[edit]

A core route of the National Highway System, Highway 4 is identified as a key international corridor.[3] It is a four-lane divided highway, constructed parallel to a line of the Canadian Pacific Railway.[4] Outside of Lethbridge and Coutts, the highway has a posted speed limit of 110 km/h (68 mph), like most other major divided highways in Alberta outside of urban areas.[5]

Interstate 15 becomes Highway 4 as it crosses the international border between Montana and Alberta into Coutts, the the only border crossing between Montana and Alberta that is open 24 hours year-round.[4] The highway curves north out of Coutts alongside the railway to a three-way intersection with Highway 501 which leads west to Del Bonita. The two highways continue concurrently to the north, briefly paralleling Milk River. The concurrency ends and Highway 501 splits to the east into the community of Milk River, becoming Railway Street, while Highway 4 continues north across the river to bypass the town.[6][7][8]

Highway 4 continues 16 km (9.9 mi) north to Warner, which it bypasses to the east;[8][9] the original alignment of the highway was directly through the community.[10] From Warner, Highway 36 splits to the north en route to Taber and Vauxhall. Highway 4 continues north-northwest to the Hamlet of New Dayton and an intersection with Highway 52 at Craddock, leading west to Raymond. Further north, Stirling Lake and the town of Stirling lie immediately west of Highway 4. New pavement was built east of Stirling to allow the divided highway to curve smoothly to the northeast, and a portion of the former two lane road remains.[11] Just north of Stirling, Highway 61 splits to the east leading to Foremost. North of Stirling, the community of Wilson Siding lies at the intersection of Highway 4 and Highway 845. Highway 4 reaches Lethbridge and curves due west across the CPR tracks becoming 24 Avenue South.[12]

In Lethbridge, the highway turns north onto 43 Street as a major arterial road with a speed limit of 70 km/h (43 mph). It intersects the major east-west arterial routes of 20 Avenue and South Parkside Drive in south Lethbridge before crossing the Canadian Pacific Railway tracks a final time, then ends at an intersection with Crowsnest Trail.[13] With only four traffic lights, it provides an alternative to the busy Mayor Magrath Drive, the main north-south route in Lethbridge, which has a dozen sets of lights over the same distance.[12] The section of 43 Street near 6 Avenue South is the busiest part of Highway 4, carrying nearly 20,000 vehicles per day in 2015. Between Lethbridge and Wilson Siding, traffic quickly decreases to less than 10,000 vehicles per day, and less than 5,000 vehicles per day for the remaining 86 km (53 mi) until Coutts.[2]

History[edit]

Like many other main highways in southern Alberta, the alignment of Highway 4 is based on an existing railway.[14] In the late 1890s, a railway was constructed between Lethbridge and Coutts by the Alberta Railway and Coal Company, who then extended the route to Great Falls, Montana.[15] A spur to the southwest from Stirling to Cardston was also built. A trail developed paralleling the railroad, eventually evolving by 1912 into a gravel road known as the Sunshine Trail.[16][17] From Lethbridge, it followed the railway line on a southeasterly heading before turning east along Township Road 54 at New Dayton.[10] It then followed present day Highway 36 due south through Warner, before turning back east toward the railway north of Milk River, before following it through the town and into Coutts.[10] By 1947 the road had been paved, and designated as Highway 4 the following decade.[16][18] Prior to the construction of 43 Street, the former alignment of Highway 4 in Lethbridge was along Mayor Magrath Drive, cosigned with Highway 5 to 3 Avenue in south Lethbridge, which was then Highway 3.[19] It was later signed as 24 Avenue past Highway 5 (Mayor Magrath Drive), becoming Scenic Drive and continuing in a northwest direction to Highway 3 near downtown.[20]

43 Street in south Lethbridge, the busiest section of Highway 4

In 1992, 43 Street in south Lethbridge was widened from two to four lanes, although it did not carry the Highway 4 designation at this time.[21] Ordinarily, Alberta begins to consider upgrading to a divided highway when traffic levels reach 10,000 vehicles per day.[22] The majority of Highway 4 remains well below this threshold, but it is a component of the CANAMEX Corridor in southern Alberta, to which Alberta had made a commitment to upgrading in the late 1980s. Plans for a divided highway were confirmed by 1989, and reiterated as a priority by annual reports published by Alberta Transportation through the 1990s. The highway was the southern most component of what was then called the Export Highway, which also included Highways 2 and 3.[23] By 1996, work had begun on a 13 km (8.1 mi) section north of Coutts, and a $26 million commitment had been made by Alberta to a group of projects that included the widening of Highway 4 in Lethbridge.[24][25] By 1998, a 12 km (7.5 mi) section south of Lethbridge to Highway 845 had been completed.[26] The final sections were completed in the early 2000s, except for a $59 million bypass of Milk River that was completed in 2009.[27]

In September 1999, Highway 4 and Interstate 15 in Montana, being the main highways between the cities of Helena and Lethbridge, were designated the First Special Service Force Memorial Highway.[28] The route was travelled in 1942 by Canadian volunteers of the force to join their American counterparts for training at Fort William Henry Harrison.[28]

Future bypass[edit]

Proposed freeway bypasses of Lethbridge, Coaldale, and Coalhurst highlighted in red

Alberta Transportation has proposed the construction of a freeway bypass of Lethbridge, tentatively called Highway 4X. In combination with proposed bypasses of Fort Macleod, Claresholm and Nanton, the project would eliminate all traffic lights on the CANAMEX Corridor in southern Alberta.[1][29] In a study completed by Stantec, the recommended alignment of the route would split from the existing Highway 4 southeast of Lethbridge between Range Roads 210 and 205, approximately equidistant between Lethbridge and Wilson Siding.[29]:11 The divided highway would proceed due north, crossing Highway 3 between Lethbridge and Coaldale to a second new highway north of the city serving as a realigned Lethbridge bypass of Highway 3 between Township Roads 94 and 100. The alternative to a bypass project would be a significant upgrading of Crowsnest Trail to a freeway standard through Lethbridge. This upgrade would potentially require relocation of the adjacent CPR railway line, and significant demolition of adjacent properties. During the study, the city of Lethbridge indicated that this disruptive alignment would be rejected, hence the need for a bypass outside of city limits to the east and north.[29]:5 In 2005, the entire project was estimated to cost $546 million.[29]:12

Major intersections[edit]

Rural/specialized municipality Location km[8] mi Destinations Notes
County of Warner No. 5 Coutts 0.0 0.0 I‑15 south – Great Falls, Helena Continuation into Montana across the Canada–United States border
1.3 0.81 Hwy 500 east
16.1 10.0 Hwy 501 west – Del Bonita, Cardston South end of Hwy 501 concurrency
Milk River 19.2 11.9 Hwy 501 east (Railway Street) – Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park North end of Hwy 501 concurrency
South Milk River access (former Hwy 4 alignment)
19.5 12.1 Crosses Milk River
21.5 13.4 Railway Street to Hwy 501 east North Milk River access (former Hwy 4 alignment)
Warner 37.8 23.5 Hwy 36 north – Taber, Vauxhall, Brooks
To Hwy 504 east
46.2 28.7 Hwy 506 west
New Dayton 59.2 36.8 Range Road 184 New Dayton access road
65.8 40.9 Hwy 52 west – Raymond, Magrath
Stirling 74.2 46.1 Hwy 61 (Red Coat Trail) east – Foremost, Manyberries
Hwy 846 south (1st Street)
RedCoatTrail.png Red Coat Trail designation begins
Lethbridge County 86.4 53.7 Hwy 845 – Raymond, Coaldale
88.8 55.2 Hwy 508 west – Lethbridge Airport
City of Lethbridge 99.5 61.8 24 Avenue S to Hwy 5 south – Cardston
43 Street
Former alignment of Hwy 4 continues west
Hwy 4 turns north along 43 Street
101.0 62.8 South Parkside Drive
102.7 63.8 Hwy 512 east (1st Avenue S)
103.4 64.2 Alberta Highway 3.svgRed Coat Trail (Alberta).svg Hwy 3 west (Crowsnest Trail, Red Coat Trail) – Fort Macleod, Calgary, Crowsnest Pass
Hwy 3 east (Crowsnest Highway) – Coaldale, Taber, Medicine Hat
Red Coat Trail follows Hwy 3 west
Continues as 43 Street to Hwy 843
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

See also[edit]

Route map: Bing / Google

KML is not from Wikidata

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Alberta Transportation publishes yearly traffic volume data for provincial highways.[2] The table compares the AADT at several locations along Highway 4 using data from 2015, expressed as an average daily vehicle count over the span of a year (AADT).[2] In the trend column, a red arrow indicates a decrease in volume compared to 2014, and a green arrow indicates an increase.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "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. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Alberta Highways 1 to 986 - Traffic Volume History 2006 - 2015" (PDF). Alberta Transportation. February 18, 2016. p. 25. Retrieved October 25, 2016. 
  3. ^ "National Highway System". Transport Canada. December 20, 2011. Archived from the original on March 5, 2016. Retrieved December 20, 2016. 
  4. ^ a b Alberta Official Road Map (Map) (2010 ed.). Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation. § N–6, N-7, O–7. 
  5. ^ Davison, Janet (August 29, 2014). "Is it time for higher speed limits on Canada's highways". CBC News. Archived from the original on April 12, 2016. Retrieved October 24, 2016. 
  6. ^ "CANAMEX Trade Corridor". Alberta Transportation. Retrieved November 4, 2016. Many projects have contributed to the overall efficiency of the CANAMEX/North-South Trade Corridor... [including] the completion of the Milk River bypass along Highway 4... 
  7. ^ Google (May 2016). "Highway 4 Bypassing Milk River, Alberta". Google Street View. Retrieved October 24, 2016. 
  8. ^ a b c Google (November 13, 2016). "Highway 4 in southern Alberta" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved November 13, 2016. 
  9. ^ Google (May 2016). "Highway 4 Bypassing Warner, Alberta". Google Street View. Retrieved October 24, 2016. 
  10. ^ a b c "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. 
  11. ^ Google (November 4, 2016). "Aerial view - Highway 4 near Stirling" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved November 4, 2016. 
  12. ^ a b Google (October 28, 2016). "Highway 4 in Lethbridge" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved October 28, 2016. 
  13. ^ Google (May 2016). "Highway 4 in Lethbridge". Google Street View. Retrieved October 24, 2016. 
  14. ^ "Calgary District, Alberta". Peel's Prairie Provinces - University of Alberta. Ottawa: Topographical Survey of Canada, Department of the Interior. February 1926. Retrieved October 26, 2016. 
  15. ^ "Alberta Railway and Coal Company, St. Mary's River". Public Archives of Canada. 2005 [First published 1883]. Retrieved November 4, 2016 – via Atlas of Alberta Railways, University of Alberta Press. 
  16. ^ a b Cashman, Tony (1990). A History of Motoring in Alberta (3rd ed.). Edmonton: Alberta Motor Association. 
  17. ^ "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. 
  18. ^ "Mayor Magrath Drive Upgrade - Balancing Road Efficiency With Business Access" (PDF). Stantec Consulting Ltd. p. 3. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 13, 2016. Retrieved November 13, 2016. 
  19. ^ "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. 
  20. ^ "Lethbridge Historical Walking Tour" (PDF). Sir Alexander Galt Museum & Archives. p. 2. Retrieved November 5, 2016 – via Alberta.ca. 
  21. ^ "1991/1992 Annual Report" (PDF). Edmonton: Alberta Transportation and Utilities. 1992. p. 30. Retrieved November 4, 2016 – via University of Alberta Libraries. 
  22. ^ Barnes, Dan (May 27, 2012). "Treat Fort McMurray like Grand Prairie, former MLA insists". Edmonton Journal. Archived from the original on April 26, 2015. Retrieved December 18, 2016. 
  23. ^ "1988/1989 Annual Report" (PDF). Edmonton: Alberta Transportation and Utilities. 1989. p. 38. 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. 
  24. ^ "1996/1997 Annual Report" (PDF). Edmonton: Alberta Transportation and Utilities. 1997. p. 13. Retrieved November 4, 2016 – via University of Alberta Libraries. 
  25. ^ "1997/1998 Annual Report" (PDF). Edmonton: Alberta Transportation and Utilities. 1998. p. 15. Retrieved November 4, 2016 – via University of Alberta Libraries. 
  26. ^ "1998/1999 Annual Report" (PDF). Edmonton: Alberta Transportation and Utilities. 1999. p. 38. Retrieved November 4, 2016 – via University of Alberta Libraries. 
  27. ^ "Milk River bypass replaces last two-lane section of Highway 4". Alberta Transportation. October 27, 2007. Archived from the original on March 25, 2015. Retrieved October 24, 2016. 
  28. ^ a b "New Plaque Commemorates the First Special Service Force". CHLB-FM News. November 4, 2014. Archived from the original on October 24, 2016. Retrieved October 24, 2016. 
  29. ^ a b c d "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.