JOGGERS, bikers, and anyone who likes to go for a nice stroll along a scenic stretch of trail will have cause to rejoice, as construction of the much-anticipated extension to the Grand Trunk Pathway along Hwy16 is starting this week.
The project will add 800 metres stretching west of the trail’s current terminus at the intersection of Hwy16 and Hwy113 to a point just shy of the Frank St. intersection of Hwy16, making the new total length of the trail 3 kilometres.
“It’s a great project because the Grand Trunk trail gets so much use already, so it will be good for the community to be able to enjoy the extended trail,” said Chris Cordts, the city’s internal design engineer.
The new multi-use paved path will include extensive landscaping with trees planted and benches installed, as well as a fence to separate the trail from the CN right-of-way.
Bear Creek Contracting was the only company to bid on the project. Its original bid came in at just over $232,000, so the city had to slightly modify the original landscaping plan to reduce costs.
The renegotiated price is $211,768.37, with a few trees and benches taken out of the design plan to bring the original price down.
Director of public works Rob Schibli said that, with other costs such as paving included, the project will fall within the original budget of $285,000 to $300,000.
A provincial grant is covering the majority of the cost with CN and BC Hydro combining to provide $30,000 between them.
“Schedule and accomplishment for this year is very dependent on weather,” said Schibli.
“Hopefully the trail will be paved by November 15th. Top soil and seeding of grass areas will be left until spring.”
The new stretch will not include lamps for lighting the path at night, he added.
The original planned September start was delayed because the provincial government needed to get a geotechnical study completed on how the path will affect Hwy16.
The extension will fall 30 metres shy of the original planned end point at Frank St. because the highway right-of-way gets too narrow. A plan to negotiate with CN to put the final stretch of trail through the rail company’s right-of-way hasn’t worked out so far, according to city director of development services David Block.
Block said that once new lights are put in at the Frank St. crossing next spring, the city might be able to then extend the path right to the crossing.
And, in the future, Block said, the city will look at extending the trail all the way to the Kalum River.
This was considered previously, however a ditch that follows the highway between Frank St. and the bridge is filled with water from Howe Creek and is considered fish habitat by the federal fisheries officials.
The other option would be to continue the trail along the north side of Hwy16, which would also require the permission of businesses that front that stretch of highway.
Block said it would be preferable to continue the trail on the existing south side, and that staff in the past suggested a larger project that would divert the water from Howe Creek through a culvert at Brawn Ave., and dig a man-made creek all the way to the Skeena through south Terrace.
Several years ago staff had suggested this would aid fish conservation and allow for the final extension of the trail.
Part of the money, $30,000, came from a CN Communities in Bloom Grant and BC Hydro through Trees Canada.
A $30,000 city grant for landscaping will cover the $15-20,000 needed for the trees, and the total cost for landscaping will be about $75,000 for landscape, included in the target budget.