BC’s Transportation Minister was in Quesnel last week and one of the things that Claire Trevena did was a flyover over the proposed route for the North-South Interconnector.
Mayor Bob Simpson says he was told that she seemed excited about how the project can help the community through this transition period, and he says he also had a chance to confirm where they were…
“We’ve confirmed that the project is now in the development design phase, so it will continue to deepen the technical review, so the geotechnical aspects of it, the archaeological aspects of it, and then begin all of the preliminary design work, that project is ongoing now.
Simpson says there is an intention to come and work with the City as a partner, and then come to the public either later this fall or in the spring with a design.
He says the bottleneck on Highway 97 in Quesnel is a transportation problem for the ministry and it’s a problem that has to be solved sooner rather than later…
“Our bridge over the Quesnel River does not accommodate over size over height loads and it doesn’t accommodate over size loads very well either. And both the bridge over the Quesnel River and over the railway are aging out infrastructure, so i did get a sense that the Minister fundamentally understood that this is a near term project that has to happen. And if the interconnector route does prove out to be a technically feasible route and a well designed solution, then from the ministries perspective it’s also a relatively inexpensive solutions to a problem that they want to resolve, so I absolutely got the sense from the Minister that she understands the nature of this project, the importance of this project, and the importance of moving as quickly as we can on it.”
Simpson says in 2020 they will then work with the Ministry of Transportation to put a business case together, including cost benefits relative to the benefits for the Transportation Ministry when it comes to moving traffic through better, being able to handle over sized loads, both height and width, and being able to deal with things like climate change and more fuel efficiency.
Simpson says the earliest they could get a financial commitment for the project is 2021, but if all goes well he says construction could start late in 2021 or in 2022.
The proposed route would see the current bridges over the Quesnel River and the railway tracks replaced upstream of their present location and a four-lane strip of highway built parallel to the railway tracks, joining the existing highway around the Super Save gas station.
This new section of highway would have two four lane bridges with no overhead structures and bike and pedestrian lanes, no cross streets on the road section, and easy access/egress from the downtown built into the two intersections at the north and south ends of the interconnector.