Culliton Creek road upgrade delayed by one month. 

Delay means road closures will start April 28.

The Ministry of Highways has delayed the start date for work on the Culliton Creek section of Highway 99 for a month.

"The reason that the project won’t be starting until April now is that documents we are sending out over the next few days are terribly complex," said Dan Mayberry, the ministry’s stakeholder liaison for Sea to Sky Projects.

Work is now expected to begin April 28.

"It is critical that bidders have a thorough understanding of project and stakeholder dynamics, as set out in the contract provisions," said Mayberry.

It’s complex because bidders must understand the volume of rock, which must be blasted and removed within the tight time frame of road closures set to keep stakeholders such as the resort of Whistler open for business.

There had been rumblings of discontent in the resort when it was learned the ministry planned to start work on the project in March.

The fear was that closures would impact on destination traveller business which often flies into Vancouver late or needs to leave from the airport early.

Night time closures could have caused havoc with those customers.

There was also concern about how the roadwork would impact spring break travellers and Easter holidayers although, said Mayberry, the ministry’s schedule had taken those high volume times into consideration.

"We have always worked with stakeholders to ensure that we are all doing the best we can while work goes ahead," he said.

The new start date was good news for Tourism Whistler.

"I think we are very pleased with the new announcement and this is actually consistent with our original recommendation," said Barrett Fisher, vice-president marketing strategy and business development for Tourism Whistler.

"The feedback that we had received was that there were definitely some concerns from our tour operators (about the original plan) and this delay of awarding the contract by one month will in fact alleviate this issue entirely.

"In fairness to the ministry they have been very open to our concerns over time zones.

"We do believe they have made an effort to accommodate our needs but this latest development is definitely a positive and is consistent with our original recommendations to avoid the winter period."

Currently the closures between Culliton Creek and Cheakamus Canyon will be as follows after April 28.

• Monday to Thursday from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., noon to 1p.m. and 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.

• Night closures from Monday to Friday morning will be between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. to 6 a.m.

• There will be no closures on the weekends, Canadian or U.S. statutory holidays and no closures June 20 to Sept. 21.

The project, which has been on the books for years, requires blasting and removal of 300,000 cubic metres of rock.

Funding just came through for the work recently and is not part of the $600 million upgrade of the Sea to Sky Highway.

The Culliton Creek section is the only part of the highway, which has not been significantly upgraded since the road was built in 1964.

Tourism Whistler will continue to communicate with the ministry about events in the resort so that road closures can continue to be planned with the least impact.

Fisher also hopes that tourism operators in the resort will keep in touch with her about events so that the information shared with the ministry is as current as possible.

"We can influence any future schedules if it is an important large piece of business for the resort," said Fisher.

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