Town of Golden council heard from Lindsay Parker, acting associate director for the Kicking Horse Canyon Project Phase 4 on September 17.
Councillors had a variety of questions and concerns about the project, many of which they have received from people in the community.
Phase 4 is the final phase of the province’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure’s plan to upgrade and twin Highway 1 through the Kicking Horse Canyon. Previous phases included upgrades to the Yoho Bridge, Park Bridge, and east and west corridors.
Parker assured council that the project is being built under the Community Benefits Agreement, meaning that preference is given to local hires, Indigenous workers, and women, for construction and labour during the project.
Councillor Caleb Moss expressed concerns regarding increased traffic on Highway 95 during potential extended and short term closures to Highway 1, stating that there are a “myriad of community concerns.” A majority of those concerns centre around rerouting traffic, and the impact it will have on communities and commuters along the way.
“We do anticipate using Highway 93 and Highway 95 as an alternate route. We do realize that will add an hour and a half to the commute,” Parker said. “We do anticipate that it will be comparable to a high volume summer day in those off-peak periods when we’re doing construction… Engagement regarding the use of this alternative route is ongoing.”
Moss says those predictions may be skewed.
“I see what happens any time of year when there’s a closure,” he said. “My anecdote is that’s incorrect.”
Moss requested a more specific analysis of traffic, and councillor Connie Barlow expressed concerns of traffic crossing the Kicking Horse River Bridge.
“Two trucks passing on the bridge can back the traffic up to [Save-On Foods] and the old court house,” she said. “We’ve got a small line through Golden.”
Other concerns addressed local traffic that commutes from Field to Golden, and back, who are employed in either location.
“Part of our strategy for the full closure period would be to allow a short window when commuter traffic can make it through the corridor,” Parker said.
The project will realign approximately 13 curves through the Kicking Horse Canyon with bridges and walls, and construction will face many obstacles while completing the project, like allowing traffic through, and more.
“The technical challenges in this corridor do make it one of the most complicated,” Parker said. “We have steep slopes, both upslope and downslope… geotechnical considerations, railway tracks down below.”
Applications for the construction contract will close later this month, and the company will come up with a design for the project, which will be presented to the province.
“Through our design and build process, we anticipate that the private sector will be able to come in and improve on what we have here today,” Parker said.
The Kicking Horse Canyon Project has been working with community stakeholders to compose a plan for construction and closures that will minimize the effect on the community. The highway would likely not be closed during peak summer and winter seasons, and should allow for local traffic and emergency services to access either side of the canyon.
alternative route is ongoing.”
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure is expected to hold a public engagement session in the fall.