A tender has been issued to rebuild and realign the washed-out sections of West Fraser Road.
The provincial Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) says the project is complicated from a geotechnical and hydrotechnical perspective and will bypass the active slide areas along the washed-out portions, improving the safety and efficiency of the roadway.
“People living in the area are looking forward to this project, following the severe washout that occurred in spring 2018, altering the connections for those who live in this community,” Rob Fleming, minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, said in a Dec. 17 news release. “When the West Fraser Road project is complete, students and residents, including farmers, ranchers and the ?Esdilagh First Nation, will benefit by reduced travel times between communities west of the Fraser River.”
The plan is to build 5.6 kilometres of two-lane road on a new alignment on the east side of Narcosli Creek, along with a new bridge crossing. Construction is expected to begin in spring 2021 and finish in fall 2023.
“We are relieved to have the West Fraser Road project commence after several months of planning for a better road,” said Chief Victor Roy Stump of the ?Esdilagh First Nation. “Our community members travelling to services in Quesnel have faced impacts to their vehicles and their daily cost of living from travelling the detours, and our children were in buses longer heading to and from school. This will reduce the strain on our day-to-day lives.”
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 so severe that the road had to be closed.
Since the washout, a detour route has been in place via the Garner Road and Webster Lake Road, a two-lane, gravel road that adds 17 kilometres in distance.
“We appreciate the collaborative approach that the ministry has taken by working with our community to keep us informed and working with us to ensure the project development is inclusive of us through future opportunities,” said ?Esdilagh Coun. Chad Stump. “We look forward to being involved in a project close to home.”
MOTI says this project is estimated to cost $103.4 million.
For more information about the West Fraser Road flood recovery project, including 3D flyover and drive-through animations, visit gov.bc.ca/westfraserroad.
Preventative maintenance work related to freshet is currently underway on West Fraser Road, and MOTI expects this work will continue until mid-March.
“The current activities involve blasting rock at the Hardrock Quarry and hauling it to Narcosli Creek,” according to the ministry. “The rock is being used to armour the creek to prevent further damage from spring freshets.”