Image courtesy of Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure

Ministry of Transportation moves forward with Highway 97 Interconnector for Quesnel

The plan for a highway bypass around Quesnel is in development for completion within five years

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) is surging ahead with plans for the AR-1 North-South Interconnector.

At last night’s (Mar. 27) City Council Meeting, a Ministry delegation presented Phase II of the Quesnel Transportation Plan to City Council and around 20 people in the gallery.

The project is still in an early stage of infrastructure planning, said senior regional transportation planning engineer Kathryn Weicker.

“There are a number of steps that come after that,” she noted.

“We have been working on building a Highway 97 transportation plan [over the past few years], coming up with short-, medium- and long-term solutions.

“We are presenting an implementation plan to you today. As that plans come into play and projects come out of that plan, they will proceed through the subsequent stages – preliminary design, functional design and all the way to construction.”

Interconnector

The MOTI delegation recommended implementation of the North-South Interconnector, which would replace the Quesnel River Bridge and the railway bridge farther up river and travel around the North Quesnel neighbourhood out onto Two Mile Flat.

They explained that through the community engagement survey, which was available on their website from Feb. 7-21, they found that 84 per cent of respondents preferred the North-South Interconnector option. Just 16 per cent of respondents prefered the option to replace the two bridges and realign the highway via Legion Drive.

They also outlined how other options, including the North-South Industrial Connector (which would travel around Cariboo Pulp and cross the river to the North East of Two Mile Flat and travel north from there) and the East-West Connector (which proposed a route for vehicles travelling from the West to cross the Fraser River upstream and connect with Two Mile Flat) had been phased out in a previous stage of the study.

READ MORE: Majority of MOTI survey respondents in favour of North-South Interconnector

Despite having already been phased out, these options were mentioned in the survey and respondents were able to agree or disagree with the decision to remove these options from the evaluation process.

Fifty-seven per cent of resondents agreed that it was appropriate to phase out the North-South Industrial Connector, and again, 57 per cent agreed it was appropriate to phase out the East-West Connector.

“The statistics from that data shows us that we took a good approach and that the public is supportive of that approach,” said regional project manager Oliver Schwuchow.

The full Community Engagement Summary Report can be found at https://www.quesnelobserver.com/news/majority-of-moti-survey-respondents-in-favour-of-north-south-interconnector/.

Other recommendations

The MOTI delegation also recommended going ahead with the Racing Road and Quesnel-Hydraulic Road access management and the Front Street three-lane configuration, both with a timeline of up to five years.

Longer-term plans from the study recommend Two Mile Flat access management and further South Quesnel access management, with a timeline of 15 to 25 years.

READ MORE: Ministry of Transportation set for second bypass open house, Feb. 19

READ MORE: Mayor provides some clarifications on Quesnel bypass

Moving forward

While recommendations have been made, project managers must still seek funding from the Ministry in order to implement the project.

”For the North-South Interconnector, we will be putting in a funding reqeust to develop a business case and undertake further preliminary engineering to get a better handle on costing and scope,” said Schwuchow.

He said the Front Street project is moving forward this year.

“We are currently in the detailed design [stage] and we are trying to get a tender out this spring and construction complete by 2018.”

Plans for the Racing Road access management are also underway, with project managers having put in a request for the next level of design, he noted.

Feedback from council

Quesnel City councillors were invited to comment and ask questions of the delegation following their presentation.

Councillor John Brisco asked whether the homes that may need to be bought up to make way for the Interconnector would be bought at a fair market value.

“They will be paid fair market value, and that’s the assessed value of the home before the Interconnector is in place,” explained Schwuchow.

Coun. Ron Paull had a question regarding the timeline.

“At what point in that zero to five-year time window would the affected home owners be given the word, yes or no, [whether the project is going ahead] so they can get on with their lives?” he asked.

“Is it not unusual for the affected home owners, and the community generally, to have a big question mark hanging over them for two years? Maybe even three?”

Schwuchow said it is difficult to give concrete answers with regard to the timeline.

“Over the next year we will be looking at getting the funding for the business case development and preliminary design. If we are successful with getting that funding, over that next year we will build that case, and federal funding applications, and work on getting that certainty.

“When those go forward to the politicians provincially and federally, we will have a better answer of whether we have determined funding for the project,” he said.

He acknowledged it could take one or two years before the project has a definitive green light.

“It could take a year to two years to get an answer on this based on the funding and the proposals that go forward.

“Throughout the process we will be engaging back to the community to let them know where we are at with the project,” he assured.

Just Posted

West Fraser combats the spread of the Douglas Fir beetle

Woods manager Mark Rungee explains how his company helps fight beetle infestations

CRD and CCSR happy by province’s decision to fund search and rescue

In wake of the announcement of $18.6-million in funding for GSAR groups the CRD is reassured

Local muralists collaborate with 150 Mile students on new school mural

Students returning from spring break will be greeted by a mural on the importance of salmon

VIDEO: Supernault family and RCMP make appeal to witnesses in Sugar Cane unsolved murder

The body of Gerald Supernault was discovered on the outskirts of Sugar Cane Reserve Oct. 5, 2008

Downtown Williams Lake launches the Downtown Williams Lake App

Available now on the App and Google Play stores

Sparks fly as SUV speeds down wrong side of Highway 1 trying to flee RCMP

Captured on video, the vehicle headed westbound against oncoming traffic before crashing

Quesnel RCMP make high risk arrest

Nearby homes were evacuated during the hours long negotiation

Calgary captain has 3 points as Flames torch Canucks 3-1

Giordano leads way as Alberta side cracks 100-point plateau

1,300 cruise ship passengers rescued by helicopter amid storm off Norway’s coast

Rescue teams with helicopters and boats were sent to evacuate the cruise ship under extremely difficult circumstances

B.C. university to offer first graduate program on mindfulness in Canada

University of the Fraser Valley says the mostly-online program focuses on self-care and well being

Province announces $18.6 million for B.C. Search and Rescue

The funding, spread over three years, to pay for operations, equipment, and training

Late-season wave of the flu makes its round in B.C.

BC Centre for Disease Control reported 50 per cent jump in flu cases in first weeks of March

Tofino’s housing crisis causing some to seek shelter at the local hospital

Tofino’s housing crisis is pushing the town’s ‘hidden homeless’ population into the forefront.

Sentencing judge in Broncos crash calls for carnage on highways to end

Judge Inez Cardinal sentenced Jaskirat Singh Sidhu to eight years

Most Read