PROVINCIAL transportation ministry officials have begun evaluating contract bids on a major project to improve traffic flow on the Sande Overpass.
Expected to cost in the millions, construction to bring about a wholesale shift in how traffic leaves and enters the southern end of the overpass is to start late this summer and be completed this year.
Chief within the work plan is to be the creation of a second left-hand turning lane for traffic turning east from the overpass onto Keith Ave. That’ll be done by converting the lane which traffic turning right from the overpass to Keith now takes.
“What we did is add another right turn lane further up [the overpass],” explained transportation ministry official Darrell Gunn of the work plan.
“Traffic that is [now] turning right will get into that [lane] so that the current lane, of course it will all be redone ….. will be converted into another left turn lane.”
That new lane will come from widening the overpass to the west by using existing right of way.
be installed at the south end to properly control the flow in all directions.
Traffic there now wishing to continue both east and west along Keith is now subject to either yellow or red flashing signal lights, often providing a confusing experience for drivers, especially those not from the area.
Two new traffic islands will also be installed at the south end and turning lanes widened to make it safer for turning traffic.
“We are giving enough room so you can make that turn without crossing into the other lane or clipping the vehicles that are stopped at the light,” said Gunn of the turning improvements.
The plan contains only a single crosswalk for pedestrians who want to head south across Keith, so those crossing from the east side of the overpass will have to walk from one island to the other and then south.
Keith Ave. will also be nudged out along the southern end of the overpass to provide more space for turning vehicles.
The new right-hand turning lane will be a full 3.6 metres wide and have a 1 metre shoulder.
Three metres of width will be added to Keith Ave. on the south end of the overpass to make it better for larger vehicles.
Not scheduled for this year but planned for next year is a complete resurfacing of the entire overpass.
The project was first announced earlier this year by transportation minister Todd Stone as a partial answer to local government officials and others who have for years called for a second overpass to relieve the congestion on the Sande Overpass and to provide a second route over CN’s rail tracks which now run through the center of the city.
Stone said then a traffic roundabout on the southern end of the overpass had been considered but then rejected because it wasn’t feasible.
The project is the second major one for this area this year.
Finished earlier this summer was a repaving of Hwy16 from Thornhill into Terrace and stopping at the Sande Overpass before resuming on the other side and continuing west down Hwy16 until Kenney.
More pullouts for trucks and new tourist rest stops are also planned.
Announced just days before the Aug. 2 federal election call was a combined $37 million commitment from both the federal and provincial governments to build an overpass 50km west of Terrace on Hwy16.
That will eliminate the level crossing there now where CN’s tracks cross Hwy16.
Two new kilometres of Hwy16 will also be built to better align the current highway with the overpass.
Construction there isn’t scheduled to start until 2017.