The preliminary design for the Quesnel North-South Interconnector has been completed and approved by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.
The design (featured below) will increase safety and reduce traffic congestion in the region by removing heavy-truck traffic from Highway 97 in the downtown core by allowing commercial trucks to bypass it. The project’s route also includes two new structures to replace the Quesnel River Bridge and the Quesnel Rail Crossing Bridge. The design also features a new 3.7-kilometre section of Highway 97 from North Star Road to River Park Road.
“This is a critical stage for us to have the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure accept a route that has been accepted by our business community, and by the City of Quesnel and the majority of residents,” stated Quesnel Mayor Bob Simpson.
“It’s a fundamental transformation of our City that would allow us to really redevelop Front Street along the Fraser River, and achieve a lot of the objectives we have for Quesnel being a really interesting and fun place to do business, to live, and to visit,” Simpson continued. “This is a major step for us to have the Ministry accept the preliminary design, and now we have two more stages. One is to get the funding approved as quickly as possible to turn that into actual project design, and then the second stage and the biggest ticket item is to get the approval, and predominately to get the federal government in funding it, so we actually get shovels in the ground and actually get the interconnector built.”
Simpson said that the project would do so much for the City.
“It gives us the opportunity to actually become the river town that we have the potential to be,” he said. “Right now, the Front Street that runs along the Fraser River, portions of the Quesnel River are clogged with highway traffic. It’s a significant bottleneck on Highway 97, by removing that bottleneck, giving the highway clearer and cleaner access through the City, we also then get the opportunity to become the River City that we have the potential to be.”
He noted that the project would also help from an emergency management perspective.
“That bottleneck is significant for us in trying to plan evacuations, even for people who have to evacuate through our communities with experiences in 2017, and 2018,” he said. “It’s a real problem and so having an interconnector, having multiple routes to be able to move people is significant and very important for us.“
The North-South Interconnector was recommended as a future long-term priority in the 2018 Quesnel Transportation Study.
The Interconnector is anticipated to cost in the range of $350 to $500 million to construct. That is a very high-level estimate, as the project is in its early phase.
The preliminary design was completed in March 2020 and involved further development of the Interconnector conceptual design, revising the construction cost estimate, and developing a business case.
Next for the project, it will go through its advanced design; then, it will be tendered before construction on the project can officially start.