Artist's illustration of an elevated and separate pathway going up Lanfear Hill. (Illustration courtest the City of Terrace)

Lanfear Hill pathway moving to more detailed design

City contemplates combining pathway with roundabout at top of hill

An idea first proposed last fall to build a separated pathway for pedestrians and cyclists on the upslope side of Lanfear Hill and do away with the current narrow gravel path on the downward side of the hill is moving to design stages in anticipation of seeking bids for construction.

A first look at what’s feasible arising from a Golder and Associates report was presented to council May 9, highlighting a pathway of either an asphalt or concrete surface that’s approximately three metres wide and elevated for the first half of the way up the hill and level with the road surface the rest of the way.

City engineering and public works director Jonathan Lambert, who presented the findings, said another benefit will come from a wider vehicle road surface by extending it to include the current pathway.

“Designs will also incorporate drainage, snow clearing, safety barriers, speed checks for cyclists, and landscape features. Widened pull-off rest areas would be incorporated to suit topography, with at least two at the one-third points of the elevated section of walkway,” a report prepared by Lambert indicated.

The prospect of a better cycling and pedestrian route up and down Lanfear is being blended in with the design forthcoming of a roundabout at the top of Lanfear Hill for what the city is calling the Lanfear Corridor Improvement Project.

Council gave its blessing to the two projects May 9 so that city staffers can now submit an application to a federal program that provides grants for 100 per cent of a project to a maximum $6 million. The application deadline is June 30.

City chief administrative officer Kris Boland told council combining a roundabout with a pathway was an opportunity to take advantage of a grant program which would provide all of the money.

A roundabout was earlier proposed to better handle traffic movement at the top of the hill particularly as the number of people living on the Bench increases.

“We may have a winner here in terms of a project,” he said in noting the promising news in the Golder report.

Provided design work goes according to plan and provided the federal grant application is successful, construction work could take place next year.

Slope stability and erosion on Lanfear Hill has been a challenge to the city for years and Lambert reeled off a history of events to council members. The latest sloped sliding brought on a closure of the hill to pedestrians last year until the city rebuilt sections of the pathway.

Lambert told council the work has envisioned will not eliminate stability and erosion challenges but that, overall, there will be improvements for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.

The upslope sidewalk work itself will require engineering and construction methods such as driving in long steel rods and securing mesh to them to prevent material from sliding down, he said.

Council has previously considered a complete rebuild of Lanfear and did commission a concept plan pegging the cost four years ago at $8 million, a figure that would today not be considered reliable given inflation and other pricing factors.

In any event, a city application made to senior governments for that amount was rejected several years ago.

Lambert said the cost of the project now under consideration would surface as design work continued.

When asked by Mayor Carol Leclerc as to what both the pathway and roundabout would cost, Lambert provided what he called his best guess.

“I’m just going to add a million dollars on to what we’re seeing right now [and] that would be somewhere between the $4 million and $6 million mark,” he said.

Leclerc referred to what she called traffic “squeeze points” on the hill right now.

“Never mind if you’re a pedestrian and you just hope you don’t get cold-cocked by a mirror on the sidewalk right now,” she said.