highway upgrade 

By Amy Fendley There will be improvements to Highway 99 between Culliton Creek and the Cheakamus Canyon, the Ministry of Highways just doesn’t know when they will be done or how much they will cost. "The province realizes there is a problem there," says John Doyle, communications director for the Transportation and Financing Authority. "We’re coming up with the steps to solve the problem and hope we can implement them in the future." Last year that section of highway was surveyed by the ministry with the intention of realigning the road to reduce the steep grades and improve some curves. "Realigning the highway means blasting a lot of these (rock) faces," Doyle says. "The intention is not to four-lane it, but to make it so trucks and slower vehicles have a lane to stay in. This will help to discourage long lines of cars, which can cause accidents." A second upgrade is planned for the Culliton Bridge, also known as BOB (Big Orange Bridge), which Doyle says needs some improvements. As well, twinning the bridge, to add capacity, is under consideration. "These are all plans," says Doyle. "Our engineering staff is doing some design work, but there are design, cost and geotechnical implications, like slope stability and base strength, that still need to be looked at." Ministry of Highways personnel were recently seen surveying drivers on the Culliton Creek-Cheakamus Canyon section of the highway to determine traffic patterns. B.C.’s highway capital plan for 1999-2000 is worth $490 million and will create 4,000 private-sector jobs during construction. The plan includes $77 million to improve performance on major highways outside the Lower Mainland. Last year the province went ahead with design and engineering work on a range of projects in order to ensure they could be implemented without delay, receiving the benefit of capital investment to B.C. communities during this summer’s construction season. However, it appears there may have been more design and engineering work done than there is funds for capital projects this year, as this year’s highway capital investment plan focuses on increased rehabilitation activity and job creation. Investments to improve the safety and performance of major highways, improvements to the province’s priority corridors and work to relieve traffic congestion in the Lower Mainland are also part of this year’s capital plan.

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