Motorists travelling between Kitimat and Terrace on Hwy37 South are to have a long-standing wish realized this year — a substantial paving project.
The project will include 35km of resurfacing with a concentration from Kitimat north to the Onion Lake flats section and selected sections running north of the Onion Lake flats toward the Northwest Regional Airport.
Repaving of Hwy37 South has been a long-standing goal of the District of Kitimat and others because, after years of industrial use, the surface has rutted in sections, creating bumpy driving conditions.
The state of the road even drew the attention of senior officials of BC Emergency Health Services, the provincial body responsible for the BC Ambulance Service, when they toured the area last fall.
“This is awesome — a long time coming,” said Kitimat mayor Phil Germuth of the project. “We’ve been lobbying for a long time, no doubt. We’re extremely happy.”
Work over the past several years has seen improvements just north of Kitimat already with a better turn off to the road leading to Kitamaat Village and dedicated left turning lanes to the Cable Car subdivision and the landfill.
Germuth was particularly happy the project will deal with rutted sections, saying the improved surface will make travel more comfortable for ambulance patients and safer for motorcyclists.
“We’ve had a good working relationship with [local transportation ministry manager] Darrell Gunn. I can’t say enough. He’s really been lobbying for us,” Germuth added.
Details such as cost, the type of resurfacing and expected paving timelines will be released in the coming weeks, indicated the provincial transportation ministry.
Meanwhile, clearing of trees has taken place at the Hwy 16/37 four-way stop in preparation for the construction of a roundabout which will be the first of its kind for the northwest.
Design work on the project, which is estimated to cost approximately $4 million, is still going on with actual construction not slated to start until next year.
Some of the clearing and construction work means the old Thornhill Frontage Road will be blocked for pedestrians and cyclists who use the section as part of the travel route between Terrace and Thornhill.
“It is not anticipated that the Old Thornhill Frontage Road will be closed permanently as part of the project,” the transportation ministry indicated.
The roundabout in which motorists enter and exit what is essentially a large circle is intended to create a safer and continuous traffic flow pattern to eliminate head-on and T-bone collisions. Information provided by the transportation ministry last fall stated that roundabouts claim 90 per cent few lives than conventional intersections, and 76 per cent fewer vehicle-related injuries.
Construction of the roundabout also means the transportation ministry’s weighscale facility will also be moved to a new location, yet undisclosed.
Also on the books for construction is a previously-announced overpass to eliminate the level crossing of the CN tracks at Mile 28 on Hwy16 between Terrace and Prince Rupert.
This is a $37 million project financed with $19.475 million from the province and $17.5 million by the federal government. No contributions are coming from CN.
The level crossing is the last of its kind on Hwy16 between Prince Rupert and the Alberta border and replacing those crossings has been a key priority with the increasing volume of rail traffic to and from port facilities at Prince Rupert.
The level crossing is such that vehicle traffic has to negotiate an ‘S’ curve, slowing down from 100km/h to 40 km/h an hour.
“Design is complete, and the project is scheduled to tender in summer 2018,” stated the transportation ministry, a timeline that is behind what was originally intended.
Construction is to take approximately two years involving not only an overpass but approaches on both ends.
Elsewhere in the region, a $24 million project is about to start to replace a single-lane timber-built bridge dating back to 1972 crossing the Nass River on Hwy37 North with a two-lane structure.
The work also involves straightening the highway approaches with the new structure going in just upstream from the current one.
The new design will allow traffic to cross the bridge deck at 90 kilometres per hour, 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.
Sections of Hwy37 North are to receive sealcoating — approximately 88km from the Cranberry No. 1 Bridge to Brown Bear Creek and approximately 100km from Good Hope Lake to Boya Lake and from Wheeler Lake to the Yukon border. And on Haida Gwaii, there’ll be approximately 7.5km of resurfacing on Tow Hill Road, east of Masset.