Golden residents get info on highway project

Representatives from the province were in Golden last week for an information session at the Golden Civic Centre.

Representatives from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure were in Golden last week for an information session at the Golden Civic Centre.

The open house was to engage the public and get feedback about the Kamloops to Alberta Four-Laning Project (covering a total of 440 kilometres of highway), which has recently received $650 million for the next phase of the project.

The recently completed Kicking Horse Canyon and Donald Bridge projects were part of the four-laning initiative, and there is a proposed project for Donald East in the next phase.

“Donald East was chosen because it’s the approach to the median scale… It will allow heavier units to slow down on the highway and vehicles can still pass them as they approach the median scale,” said Rick Blixrud, assistant regional director with the ministry.

The Donald East project, located 20 kilometres west of Golden, will widen 2.5 km of highway to four lanes, add 1.2 km of paved shoulders (2.5 metres wide), install a retaining wall to avoid impacts on the rail corridor.

This is expected to improve safety and traffic flow, especially in regards to trucks getting to and from the Joint Use Vehicle Inspection Station.

There are seven proposed projects between Kamloops and Golden. These seven projects make up $140 million of the $650 million investment. Some have already been tendered, and will hopefully be underway soon. Donald East is still in early stages of design, but Blixrud says they plan to have it tendered as soon as possible.

The four-laning project is a provincial effort, although there has been co-operation and financial support from the federal government. This means that the substantial stretches of highway from Revelstoke to Golden, and Golden to the border, that are inside the national parks, are not part of this project. These stretches of highway are federal jurisdiction.

Golden was the last stop on this information tour, and the feedback has varied quite a bit from location to location.

“Every place has their own take on it, but we’re getting a lot of comments about where we have restrictions, like Three Valley Gap, where we have closures due to avalanches, that sort of thing,” said Blixrud. Three Valley Gap was pointed out as a major concern at both the Golden and Revelstoke meetings.

“We’ll take the information we’ve compiled here, and the stuff sent in through the website, and that will help us formulate our next projects.”

This is not however the last chance to give your opinion. Before these projects actually begin, the ministry will come back to have open houses in the communities close by.

“This is not the last chance for people to have input, especially when it comes down to specifics. Once we have something to show, we’ll come back,” said Blixrud.

They are also welcoming feedback on completed projects. The ministry has received some letters inquiring about the Donald Bridge, and the lack of centre medians.

When designing the project they had looked at the possibility of installing medians, but determined that traffic volume was not sufficient to warrant it.

“Research has shown that until you have a certain amount of traffic, centre medians can actually increase the number of accidents. Instead of drivers drifting slightly into the oncoming lane and correcting themselves, they hit the median,” said Blixrud.

The project was designed to allow for medians, and if the traffic level increases the ministry may return to the Donald Bridge and install them.

To learn more about the proposed projects, visit www.bchwy1.ca.