A provincial grant is helping finance an extension of the Grand Trunk Pathway west to the Kalum River Bridge. (File photo)

A provincial grant is helping finance an extension of the Grand Trunk Pathway west to the Kalum River Bridge. (File photo)

Significant pedestrian, cycling improvements coming this year

Paved pathways to be built to Kalum River and old Skeena bridges

Bids close next week on what promises to be the most extensive and concentrated construction of pathways for pedestrians and cyclists locally in years.

Thanks to a series of senior government grants worth more than $2.25 million, the City of Terrace is continuing with a sidewalk improvement project in town, to finish the Grand Trunk Pathway from its current ending at Frank St. west to the Kalum River Bridge. It will replace what is now a narrow dirt and gravel path from Apsley Ave. on the eastern end of Lakelse Ave. to the old Skeena Bridge with a wider and paved route.

What is likely to be the more expensive of the three is the long-awaited completion of the Grand Trunk Pathway, popularly known as the millennium trail, from where it abruptly stops at the Frank St. and Highway 16 intersection westward to the Kalum River Bridge.

Although the pathway now runs parallel to the CN tracks on the south side of Hwy16, the pathway completion will run on the north side of the highway because construction will be less complicated and less expensive owing to the proximity of the tracks.

Crossing from one side of the highway to another will be aided by an existing stop light at the Frank St. and Highway 16 intersection.

As of last year, the city had assigned just over $1 million to the project — $505,000 from a federal government program in which it sends local governments gas tax revenue it has collected and $500,000 from a provincial government program aimed at improvements for pedestrians and cyclists.

The project has involved agreements with landowners along the route on the north side of the highway and right of way acquisition where necessary.

Provision for lighting is included in the design elements and the width is to be three metres over a length of approximately 1.5 kilometres.

Senior city officials have already warned council that cost pressures might result in bids being returned that are higher than the budget that’s been set out.

Light poles and lights are not part of the tender and will be supplied by the city, said Kate Lautens, the city’s communication advisor.

“This helps us in case of supply chain uncertainty, project scheduling, and budgeting,” she said.

Bid documents released last week call for excavation of the route and placement of base and subbase material in preparation for paving, but not paving itself which is to be a separate contract but within the budget window. Expected completion is early this fall.

Bids for this work close April 22, the same day bids close on the project to build the paved pathway from Apsley to the old Skeena Bridge.

The city has assigned a provincial grant of $921,352 for this project, a one-kilometre asphalt surface that’s to be three metres wide and separated for safety from the road.

This particular contract is to build up the pathway base in preparation for paving but not paving itself. Paving is to be completed via a separate contract.

Although not directly connected to the Apsley to old Skeena Bridge pathway project, dubbed the Lakelse Gateway, the city is also looking for someone to remove potential rock falling hazards along the route.

A survey revealed work was needed along 348 metres of exposed rock above the pathway.

Periodic work has been done to remove the possibilities of rock falls but with far more people expected to use the improved pathway, the city has decided a more direct approach is needed.

“The new pathway design is also wider than the existing gravel sidewalk and may position users in closer proximity to the cliff,” explained city engineering director Jonathan Lambert.

Preventative measures could include scaling, installing mesh barriers and bolting larger rocks firmly in place.

Bids for this work close April 13 with a completion in mid-September. The timing will be coordinated with the pathway work and, possibly, the closure later this year of the old Skeena Bridge as part of a multi-million rehabilitation of that structure.

The third major project is the second year of a two-year effort to fix up the sidewalks and associated amenities on the 4600 and 4700 blocks of Lazelle Ave. downtown that began with the 4600 block last year and will finish with the 4700 block this year.

The work will consist of installing brick pavers in grass boulevard strips, adding trees, bike racks, garbage cans and other improvements — basically the same improvements along Lakelse Ave. two years ago.

A budget of $280,000 has been set for the work this year, all of which comes from a major grant the city got in 2019 and again in 2020 for larger-scale capital projects. Bids close April 22.