Expect more delays at the Hwy 16 and 37 intersection and a summer-long detour around Lakelse Avenue as summer construction continues on the new roundabout.
Crews dug into the project earlier this month, at times causing expected traffic delays of 10 to 15 minutes. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) is telling drivers to expect more periodic delays until project completion later this fall.
A small section of Lakelse Avenue is also being replaced at the southern foot of the Old Bridge to make way for a dedicated left turn lane for Queensway traffic and improved sight distance at the intersection. MOTI says the road will be closed for the duration of the project. A detour is in place via Queensway Drive and Substation Avenue.
Currently crews are using hydraulic hammers to remove rocky areas around the edges of Lakelse, but blasting may be required.
As the Port of Prince Rupert continues its mammoth growth and the LNG Canada facility in Kitimat begins construction, the roundabout is considered essential for efficient traffic movement through the highway intersection.
The project has required extensive utility relocation. The weigh scales are being moved further east along Hwy16 in Thornhill to property already owned by the provincial government.
Originally budgeted for $4 million, the cost has since ballooned to $9.3 million. A ministry spokesperson explains the more-than doubling of cost is because the first estimate was issued before public consultation made it clear the best of several options for intersection improvement was the more costly roundabout.
“It was important for the ministry to carry out broad consultation early in this project to ensure we were on the right path given how much this intersection affects all road users in the region. Following public consultation the higher cost solution — a roundabout — was identified as the preferred option based on multiple factors including local support, improved vehicle and pedestrian safety and improved traffic flow.”
The federal government is contributing $1.7 million to the cost with the province picking up the remaining $7.6 million.
The project completion date is expected in the fall of this year.
Mild opposition to the roundabout has surfaced over concerns of drivers’ unfamiliarity with how roundabouts work, but the ministry cites international studies that show roundabouts increase traffic flow, while lowering both vehicle accident rates and severity.
– With files from Rod Link