The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure announced Thursday, Sept 5 that the Kicking Horse Canyon highway project is set to begin in the spring of 2020, and is expected to be completed in winter 2023/24.
Claire Trevena, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, said the ministry continues to work with community stakeholders to set closure times that could see the Trans-Canada Highway east of Golden rerouted for weeks at a time through Highways 93 and 95.
The project was originally slated for completion with $450 million, but has been increased by an additional $151 million since the Phase 4 project was announced in 2016.
Every day, 10,000 vehicles travel the Trans-Canada Highway through the Kicking Horse Canyon. Realigning and widening the highway will help to protect motorists from avalanches and rock falling hazards along the route.
“The long-term benefits of this project go far beyond a safer highway,” Trevena said, adding that the project will create around 200 jobs during the three construction seasons. “The people who live closest to the work will be the first to benefit.”
Jobs created are expected to include ironworkers, labourers, traffic control, and more.
“Community benefit agreements will create a legacy of skilled workers across the province,” Trevena said.
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has been meeting with community stakeholders since the project was announced to decide on the best practices moving forward in regards to highway closures and delays.
“We are still working with the communities for those exact closures,” Trevena said. “That will enable us to continue that work safely.”
Minister Trevena said the Trans-Canada Highway east of Golden could be closed for weeks at a time, but that it would not be closed during the summer months, since that is the busiest travel season for motorists. She also indicated the highway would likely not be closed during ski season either.
In March, Town of Golden CAO Jon Wilsgard said the province was looking at the best options, and that a few were being considered. The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has confirmed it will reroute traffic through Highway 93 from Banff, Alta., to Radium, and up Highway 95 to Golden. Local traffic to and from Field, including school buses and emergency services are expected to be able to make the passage.
Previously, the Highway 95 Kicking Horse River Bridge, in downtown Golden, was slated for replacement and realignment. Open houses at the Golden Civic Centre showed potential options for the project.
Annually, inspections are completed on bridges in the province, and the Kicking Horse River Bridge will be able to handle an increase in traffic while the Trans-Canada Highway is closed.
“I’m very confident the bridge will be absolutely safe,” Trevena said, adding that the bridge was inspected and she has met with the Town of Golden Mayor Ron Oszust.
Longer closures will occur in the spring and fall, allowing for temporary closures during the busier travelling months in the summer.
The highway project is intended to increase safety and efficiency through the Kicking Horse Canyon, and includes four phases of improvements that will see the highway completed with four lanes travelling through.