A photo showing damage to West Fraser Road at Deep Creek Hill, taken May 5, 2018. (Bo Mills photo)

Provincial government expects rebuilding of West Fraser Road to begin later this year

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure will hold a public information session this spring

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) is finalizing the detailed design for rebuilding West Fraser Road and says funding is in place and plans are moving forward.

In a news release sent out Wednesday, Feb. 5, MOTI says plans are moving ahead to rebuild and realign West Fraser Road, replacing the road that was heavily damaged by flooding in 2018.

“The West Fraser Road washout has had significant impacts to people and local communities, and we are committed to a long-term solution,” Claire Trevena, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, said in the release. “I appreciate people’s patience throughout this very challenging time. The ministry continues to work on maintaining the alternative route, while ensuring safe travel through the area by building a new road.”

The West Fraser Road project is estimated to cost up to $103.4 million and has been approved in principle for funding support through Public Safety Canada’s Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangement, according to MOTI.

MOTI is currently finalizing the detailed design for the new road, which will bypass the active slide areas along the section washed out in 2018.

Work will include the construction of five kilometres of two-lane road on a new alignment, a new bridge crossing Narcosli Creek and rock stabilization work along the new route, according to MOTI.

“We are pleased the funding is in place and the rebuilding of the West Fraser Road will start,” Chief Roy Stump and Councillors William Baptiste, Howard Johnny and Chad Stump of the ?Esdilagh First Nation said in the release. “There has been a significant impact to our community since the washout of the West Fraser Road. With the washout, we travel a longer distance to get to Quesnel and our children have had to endure additional travel time to get to school, reducing their time at home. Realigning the West Fraser Road will provide ?Esdilagh with the proper egress route to Quesnel and decrease the amount of industry traffic we have to encounter — overall, providing more safety for our members.”

Upon completion of the final engineering design activities, the ministry says it will hold a public information session in spring 2020 to share the finalized design and project timelines with the community.

Construction is expected to begin later this year, and completion is slated for late 2022.

In April 2018, high water levels from the spring freshet caused Narcosli Creek to erode five sections of West Fraser Road on the west side of the Fraser River, approximately 17 kilometres south of Quesnel. The damage was severe, resulting in the road being closed over a three-kilometre section.

MOTI says up to 150 vehicles per day would normally use West Fraser Road, which accesses the ?Esdilagh First Nation community, ranches, logging activities, farming lands and local residences, and since April 2018, a detour route has been in place via Garner Road and Webster Lake Road, which is a two-lane gravel road. The government has invested nearly $2 million to improve the route.

“Local ministry staff and the maintenance contractor continue to ensure the detour remains safe and reliable for road users,” states the news release.

READ MORE: Letter to the editor: Buckridge family left with many unanswered questions and uncertainties

Last month, the Quesnel School District board of education voted to renew its letter writing campaign to MOTI to reiterate its concerns around West Fraser Road and the safety of the detour route, and the Buck Ridge Community Association initiated a letter-writing campaign to share how the washout has impacted them.

For more information on West Fraser Road, visit gov.bc.ca/westfraserroad.

READ MORE: Quesnel school board will continue to lobby MOTI to rebuild West Fraser Road


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