The provincial and federal governments announced two Trans-Canada Highway upgrade projects totalling $469.4 million on Feb. 17.
The first is an upgrade to a problematic section of the Kicking Horse Canyon east of Golden. That project will cost about $450 million for a four-kilometre section. It will involve extensive engineering work to expand the section to four lanes, requiring bridges, retaining walls and rock catchments.
The second is a $19.4 million project to four lane the highway in the Donald to Forde section of Highway 1.
B.C. transportation minister Todd Stone joined federal counterparts in Kamloops for the announcement. “The Trans-Canada Highway is our province’s main connection between the Pacific Gateway and the rest of Canada, and the growth of our economy and communities depends on having a strong transportation network,” Stone said. “Thanks to our valuable partnerships with Canada, local communities and First Nations, these projects will help traffic move more safely and efficiently, communities will be better connected, and businesses can distribute their products efficiently throughout the province, as well as to our ports and borders beyond.”
Columbia River–Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald, who is a member of the NDP official Opposition, applauded the government announcement.
“I am really delighted with the announcement,” Macdonald said in an interview with the Mountaineer. “I am really pleased that they are going to do this. This will have obviously economic benefits, but there is also no question that the improvements will save lives and make the road more dependable.
“Certainly the provincial government has come through here,” Macdonald added.
He said he hoped the project proceeded in a timely fashion.
For those watching the upcoming provincial election, both major parties have committed to four-laning and dividing the Trans-Canada Highway from Kamloops to the Alberta border. The ruling Liberals made that pledge several years ago, and NDP leader John Horgan also made the same commitment in the fall.
Macdonald said the NDP are waiting for the budget numbers, which will be released next week, to provide more specifics on that commitment.
Neither party is in a position to put a timeline on their four-laning commitments at this point. The project would be so costly that a concrete estimate doesn’t exist, but it’s safe to say that it’s in the many tens of billions.
Macdonald estimated that under the pace the B.C. government had been going, it would take 60 years to complete the four-laning, but he was hopeful this announcement could accelerate the completion of the overall project. He added that doing this technically difficult section first “makes sense” and that subsequent sections are likely to be easier and less costly.
Some “quick facts” about the projects provided in a media release from the B.C. government:
* For work through Kicking Horse Canyon, the Government of Canada will provide up to $215,198,500 through the New Building Canada Fund – National Infrastructure Component. The Government of British Columbia will match the federal contribution and provide $19,603,000 to cover additional related project expenses.
* For work on Donald to Forde Station, the Government of Canada will provide up to $7,270,000, through the Provincial-Territorial Infrastructure Component – National and Regional Projects. The Government of British Columbia will match the federal contribution and provide $4,860,000 to cover additional related project expenses.
* The total project costs are estimated at over $469 million, for which the Government of British Columbia is providing up to $247 million, and the Government of Canada is providing up to $222 million.
* The Government of Canada will provide more than $180 billion in infrastructure funding over 12 years for public transit, green infrastructure, social infrastructure, transportation that supports trade, and Canada’s rural and northern communities.
* The Trans-Canada Highway corridor sees up to 12,000 vehicles per day, 15% of which are heavy trucks carrying between $24 billion and $32 billion per year in commercial goods.