The Nass River crossing is getting a new two-lane bridge to replace the 62-year-old existing single-lane timber structure.
The new bridge, located on Hwy 37 will be built upstream from the current one. The two lanes will be able to accommodate heavier commercial vehicles, and will have shoulders for pedestrians and cyclists.
“We really like to see development happening,” Chief Darlene Simpson of the Skii Km Lax Ha. “It brings health to the communities and we really look forward to seeing the progress on Hwy 37 north.”
The project also includes realigning about a kilometre of the highway on each end of the bridge to improve sight lines. This new design means traffic can cross the bridge deck at 90 km/h, instead of the original 30 km/h speed limit.
In addition, the rest area at the east end of the bridge will be relocated and will include a new pedestrian viewpoint and new washroom facilities. A left-turn lane and a deceleration lane will provide safe access. Hazelton councillor Nick Marshall witnessed a crash on the bridge and welcomes some upgraded safety changes.
“They were going pretty fast, it was pouring rain,” he said. “When we caught up to them they were laying down on the bridge sliding across, they were going too fast in the rain. They got their bikes up and moved over to the pull-out and she was giving him a licking.”
The total project will cost $24 million. The federal government will kick in $10.7 with the provincial government paying for the rest. A successful bidder has been selected and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure is in the process of awarding the construction contract.
Stikine MLA Doug Donaldson said we deserve this kind of infrastructure in the north.
“It is extremely important to be able to access resources for everybody’s benefit in the area as well as increase safety in the roads and increase other aspects of economic development, not just resource extraction but tourism as well,” he said. “We contribute an awful lot in this area, in this region to the economic pie in the province and we deserve to see some of that money return to the area.”
Construction will begin in the spring and is slated to wrap up in the fall of 2019. During this time, drivers can use the existing bridge but are urged to exercise caution.