A safety ceremony was held recently by the ?Esdilagh First Nation for road crews who will be working later this year on the West Fraser Road rebuild project. (?Esdilagh First Nation Facebook photo)

?Esdilagh First Nation develops archaeological policy for West Fraser Road rebuild

Sections of the road eroded in April 2018

With the contract to rebuild the West Fraser Road going to tender this fall, a B.C. First Nation has developed a policy to guide the work of government and industry within their caretaker area.

Five sections of the road located on the west side of the Fraser River, approximately 17 kilometres south of Quesnel, were eroded in April 2018 by Narcosli Creek that swelled due to high water levels.

A spokesperson with the Ministry of Transporation and Infrastructure said the ministry is currently carrying out the final stages of getting the project ready for tender and will be sharing the design with the public later this summer.

In anticipation of the rebuild, ?Esdilagh First Nation has developed an interim archaeological policy they said provides them with more protections and say over their lands.

The policy requires each project within the ?Esdilagh caretaker area to be assessed by the Nation and have at least one representative on-site. It also directs that work be stopped and the Nation notified if there are any unexpected archaeological finds.

The project which will include the construction of more than five kilometres of two-lane road on a new alignment; a new bridge crossing Narcosli Creek; and rock stabilization work. The new, geotechnically complicated route is estimated to cost up to $103.4 million.

Since the washout, the ministry said a 17-kilometre detour route has been in place via the Garner and Webster Lake Road system in which the province has invested close to $2 million to improve.

Depending on conditions, motorists using the detour endure between 20 to 45 minutes in additional travel time for a one-way trip.

Read More: Letter to the editor: Quesnel Cattlemen’s Association raise concerns over West Fraser Road detour

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