CONSTRUCTION OF a $37 million highway overpass spanning CN’s rail tracks 50km west of Terrace on Hwy16 may have been announced July 27, but the actual work won’t start for nearly 18 months.
The design of the project, which involves two new kilometres of Hwy16 in addition to the overpass itself, so the work can go to tender won’t be completed until late next year, indicates information provided by the ministry.
Construction itself is scheduled to start in early 2017 and be completed the end of 2018, indicates the information.
When finished, the overpass will eliminate a twisty ‘S’ curve of Hwy16 as it crosses the tracks beside the Skeena River.
The level crossing, now marked by warning signs and reduced speed limits, is the last of its kind along Hwy16 in the province, said provincial transportation minister Todd Stone.
“There’s a number of curves involved. People have to slow down from 100 km per hour to 40 km per hour,” said Stone.
The province, which will be the lead agency on this project, will pay $19.5 million of the cost with the federal government adding $17.5 million.
CN isn’t expected to make any kind of financial contribution toward the project but if it requests changes, it will then contribute toward that cost, said the transportation ministry in a statement.
The ministry also said it was too early to say if CN’s tracks will have to be moved or exactly where the overpass and new road will be located.
“It is a priority to avoid riparian zones if possible,” the ministry said of the closeness of the location to the Skeena River.
“If encroachment is unavoidable, the ministry will mitigate impacts as much as possible and work with regulatory agencies to ensure all appropriate measures are taken.”
Stone and federal Conservative Prince George-Peace River Bob Zimmer were at the Northwest Regional Airport July 27 to make this and other construction announcements for the region, part of a flurry leading up to the start of the federal election campaign.
Stone said the overpass will make the flow of goods to and from port facilities at Prince Rupert more efficient and safer.
Geotechnical drilling and other work at the location took place this spring to determine the state of the sub-strata in advance of detailed design and construction plans.
It’s been more than a decade since the last road overpass over CN’s tracks was built in the region and it’s located on the road leading to the Hudson Bay Mountain ski development just outside of Smithers.
Terrace council and other local bodies had been lobbying for years for a second overpass connecting the southside with the rest of the city.
They’ve cited crowded traffic conditions on the existing Sande Overpass as a chokepoint affecting the flow of local and of highway traffic.
(With files from Kevin Campbell, the Northern View, Prince Rupert, B.C.)