Highline Road users in limbo 

Residents, travellers hopeful road maintenance issues can be resolved as part of Heartland program

Although the issue of who is responsible for the ongoing maintenance of the Highline Road, connecting D’Arcy to Seton Portage, has been up in the air for many years, recent developments have prompted residents and users to press for someone – anyone – to take responsibility.

The first development was B.C. Rail’s decision to cut passenger service along the rail line from North Vancouver to 100 Mile House in October 2002. In the process they cut the mail service and forced seasonal residents to drive the road, which hugs the western shore of Anderson Lake.

The second development is the collapse of the bridge over McGillivoary Creek in September 2002. The bridge was already deteriorating and residents and government agencies were discussing the bridge and the road when a piece of heavy machinery under contract from B.C. Hydro – one of the most frequent government agencies to use the road – fell through. It has not been repaired, and because it is no longer a through route, routine road grading has stopped and the road is getting worse by the day.

There is hope however. In his Heartlands Economic Strategy, introduced Feb. 12, Premier Gordon Campbell announced up to $210 million in additional funding over the next few years for rural and resource roads.

"We’d sure like to see a little of that," said Mike Morley, the chairman of the Ponderosa strata community and one of the few permanent residents living along the road.

Ponderosa has 26 properties on approximately 400 hectares of land on the shores of Anderson Lake.

According to Morley, he attended a meeting in the fall that included members of the Seton Portage District Chamber of Commerce, the Kamloops Regional District, the Ministry of Transportation, the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Water B.C. and B.C. Hydro to discuss the future of the road.

While none of the agencies involved would take responsibility for the road – thereby assuming the responsibility for maintenance and insurance – the Ministry of Forests sold the residents a $50,000 bridge, that is sitting in a work yard in Lillooet, for one dollar.

Morley says it will cost more to bring the bridge to the area, plus about $20,000 to put in new footings. As for labour, residents in Ponderosa and the nearby community of McGillivoray Falls, which has about 40 properties, would be willing to provide free labour for the project.

"We expected B.C. Hydro to replace the bridge because of all the government users, B.C. Hydro is up here the most working on the powerlines, but they decided that they’ve done enough and were happy to use helicopters and other means to access the powerlines," said Morley.

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