Province and feds pledge millions for Trans Canada upgrades in B.C. - InfoNews

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Province and feds pledge millions for Trans Canada upgrades in B.C.

Provincial Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Todd Stone discusses the $469 million expansion of Highway 1, Feb. 17, 2017, with Federal Minister of Infrastructure and communities Amarjeet Sohi.
February 17, 2017 - 11:18 AM

KAMLOOPS - Two major sections of the Trans Canada Highway to Alberta will soon see upgrades including adding four lanes and widened shoulders.

Transportation minister Todd Stone told a news conference in Kamloops today, Feb. 17, $469.4 million will be spent on two sections of Highway 1. The province is providing about $247 million and the federal government is contributing about $222 million toward the upgrades.

The Trans Canada through Kicking Horse Canyon will be realigned and expanded to four lanes, according to Stone. Widened shoulders and median barriers will be included in the construction. Bridges, retaining walls, rock catchment ditches and other safety measures to reduce rock fall hazards are also part of the plan. The total cost of the project is pegged at $450 million.

"That project will be the most expensive highway construction project, not just in B.C.’s history, but we think likely in Canadian history at just over $110 million dollars per a kilometre," Stone says. "This location has a collision fatality rate about three times the provincial average."

The high cost of the section is due to geological issues, Stone says, as the highway has a rock wall on one side and cliffs on the other. To expand it will mean blasting large amounts of rock without damaging the current infrastructure.

Work on Highway 1, about 20 kilometres west of Golden from Donald to Forde Station Road will also get a four lane expansion and improved access to the weigh scale at a cost of $19.4 million.

The province says 15 per cent of the 12,000 vehicles that the Trans Canada Highway sees each day carry between $24 billion and $32 billion in commercial goods per year. Stone called the section of Highway 1 coming in to B.C. the most important highway connection in the province.

"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 says.

Expanding the Trans Canada Highway is part of the NDP's platform in the upcoming provincial election. When asked why the Liberal government is announcing the funding less than four months before the election, Stone said the provincial and federal government have been in talks for months and lining up the funding is a process, but wouldn't say when the province received confirmation from the federal government that funding was assured.

Federal transportation minister Amarjeet Sohi says once the federal Liberal party took over in 2015, discussions began between the provincial governments and his ministry to look at highway projects, and the Kicking Horse corridor was identified up to 18 months ago as a high priority.

More funding announcements are coming for Highway 1 in the next few weeks and months, Stone says.

The projects are set to begin this summer and will continue into spring 2024.

— This story was updated at 12:15 p.m. Feb. 16, 2017 to include updates from the press conference and an interview with Minister Todd Stone.

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