A major and highly-anticipated construction project along the Trans-Canada Highway near the B.C.-Alberta border is slated to start on Monday.
The project will see 4.8 km of the highway through Kicking Horse Canyon near the community of Golden upgraded to modern standards.
According to B.C. officials, that section of road is the most technically challenging section of Highway 1 in B.C., and the upgrades will make it safer for motorists.
However, phase four of the highway project — which will see 13 curves realigned and the highway widened to four lanes — will also involve that section of road being closed to traffic for a month.
The shutdown will run April 12 to May 14. Further, for the last half of May, there will be 24-hour closures on weekdays, except for the Victoria Day holiday.
The Ministry of Transportation says during these periods, Trans-Canada traffic between Golden and Castle Junction will be rerouted via Highways 93S and 95. Those detours will add up to 90 extra minutes of travel time.
Roadside signage will provide advance notification of the closure and alternative routes will also have signage.
“This extended closure is intended to minimize travel disruptions during the peak summer and winter travel periods by having as much work as possible done at night and other off-peak periods,” the ministry said in a press release.
Phase 4 will also see centre median barriers installed, highway shoulders widened to accommodate cyclists plus wildlife fencing and passages.
“We’re excited to be moving forward with major improvements on the Trans-Canada Highway to the Alberta border to make travel better and safer for people who live and work in the region,” said B.C. transportation minister Rob Fleming.
“This is the fourth and final phase of the Kicking Horse Canyon, and we know this work will significantly upgrade this challenging section of Highway 1, especially for all of the commercial truck drivers who travel this corridor regularly.
“Once the work is completed, everyone who travels this route will benefit.”
The ministry says Kicking Horse Canyon sees more than 12,000 vehicles daily during the summer, with 30 per cent consisting of commercial vehicles.
The first three phases transformed 21 km of what was a narrow and winding two-lane highway into a modern, four-lane roadway. The fourth phase is expected to be substantially complete in winter 2023-24.
The ministry noted that during extended closures, a commuter pass system will allow local commuters and essential traffic to be escorted through the construction zone during two brief peak-period windows.
Similar escorts will be provided for school buses so students will have uninterrupted access to school.
“This is a very exciting project for our community,” said the mayor of Golden, Ron Oszust. “Although we recognize that there will be some challenges along the way over the next few years, we will also see opportunities.
“Traffic reroutes will bring new travellers into our downtown core and most importantly, once completed, there will be a much safer and more accessible route into the community of Golden and the Province of B.C. for our residents and visitors.”
The ministry says the project will cost $601 million, with the federal government providing $215 million and the province funding the remaining $386 million.
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