Image courtesy of Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure

Ministry of Transportation moves forward with Highway 97 Interconnector for Quesnel

The plan for a highway bypass around Quesnel is in development for completion within five years

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) is surging ahead with plans for the AR-1 North-South Interconnector.

At last night’s (Mar. 27) City Council Meeting, a Ministry delegation presented Phase II of the Quesnel Transportation Plan to City Council and around 20 people in the gallery.

The project is still in an early stage of infrastructure planning, said senior regional transportation planning engineer Kathryn Weicker.

“There are a number of steps that come after that,” she noted.

“We have been working on building a Highway 97 transportation plan [over the past few years], coming up with short-, medium- and long-term solutions.

“We are presenting an implementation plan to you today. As that plans come into play and projects come out of that plan, they will proceed through the subsequent stages – preliminary design, functional design and all the way to construction.”

Interconnector

The MOTI delegation recommended implementation of the North-South Interconnector, which would replace the Quesnel River Bridge and the railway bridge farther up river and travel around the North Quesnel neighbourhood out onto Two Mile Flat.

They explained that through the community engagement survey, which was available on their website from Feb. 7-21, they found that 84 per cent of respondents preferred the North-South Interconnector option. Just 16 per cent of respondents prefered the option to replace the two bridges and realign the highway via Legion Drive.

They also outlined how other options, including the North-South Industrial Connector (which would travel around Cariboo Pulp and cross the river to the North East of Two Mile Flat and travel north from there) and the East-West Connector (which proposed a route for vehicles travelling from the West to cross the Fraser River upstream and connect with Two Mile Flat) had been phased out in a previous stage of the study.

READ MORE: Majority of MOTI survey respondents in favour of North-South Interconnector

Despite having already been phased out, these options were mentioned in the survey and respondents were able to agree or disagree with the decision to remove these options from the evaluation process.

Fifty-seven per cent of resondents agreed that it was appropriate to phase out the North-South Industrial Connector, and again, 57 per cent agreed it was appropriate to phase out the East-West Connector.

“The statistics from that data shows us that we took a good approach and that the public is supportive of that approach,” said regional project manager Oliver Schwuchow.

The full Community Engagement Summary Report can be found at https://www.quesnelobserver.com/news/majority-of-moti-survey-respondents-in-favour-of-north-south-interconnector/.

Other recommendations

The MOTI delegation also recommended going ahead with the Racing Road and Quesnel-Hydraulic Road access management and the Front Street three-lane configuration, both with a timeline of up to five years.

Longer-term plans from the study recommend Two Mile Flat access management and further South Quesnel access management, with a timeline of 15 to 25 years.

READ MORE: Ministry of Transportation set for second bypass open house, Feb. 19

READ MORE: Mayor provides some clarifications on Quesnel bypass

Moving forward

While recommendations have been made, project managers must still seek funding from the Ministry in order to implement the project.

”For the North-South Interconnector, we will be putting in a funding reqeust to develop a business case and undertake further preliminary engineering to get a better handle on costing and scope,” said Schwuchow.

He said the Front Street project is moving forward this year.

“We are currently in the detailed design [stage] and we are trying to get a tender out this spring and construction complete by 2018.”

Plans for the Racing Road access management are also underway, with project managers having put in a request for the next level of design, he noted.

Feedback from council

Quesnel City councillors were invited to comment and ask questions of the delegation following their presentation.

Councillor John Brisco asked whether the homes that may need to be bought up to make way for the Interconnector would be bought at a fair market value.

“They will be paid fair market value, and that’s the assessed value of the home before the Interconnector is in place,” explained Schwuchow.

Coun. Ron Paull had a question regarding the timeline.

“At what point in that zero to five-year time window would the affected home owners be given the word, yes or no, [whether the project is going ahead] so they can get on with their lives?” he asked.

“Is it not unusual for the affected home owners, and the community generally, to have a big question mark hanging over them for two years? Maybe even three?”

Schwuchow said it is difficult to give concrete answers with regard to the timeline.

“Over the next year we will be looking at getting the funding for the business case development and preliminary design. If we are successful with getting that funding, over that next year we will build that case, and federal funding applications, and work on getting that certainty.

“When those go forward to the politicians provincially and federally, we will have a better answer of whether we have determined funding for the project,” he said.

He acknowledged it could take one or two years before the project has a definitive green light.

“It could take a year to two years to get an answer on this based on the funding and the proposals that go forward.

“Throughout the process we will be engaging back to the community to let them know where we are at with the project,” he assured.

Just Posted

Good attendance at picnic for Autism Awareness Month

Looking for community input for a similar event next year

CRD encourages residents to prepare for spring melt

High stream flows, flooding, debris flows, high water tables or landslides could occur so residents should be prepared

Increase in property crime, caution urged handling street drugs

The weekly police report for the South Cariboo area

New Parkside exhibit full of feathers

‘You don’t expect miracles but this to me is miraculous’

Smoke between Gateway and 100 Mile House

(UPDATE: April 23, 10:10 a.m.) 100 Mile Fire Rescue at the scene until 7 p.m.

VIDEO: B.C. man recognized for spinning basketball on toothbrush

Abbotsford man holds world record for longest duration of time of 60.5 seconds

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

B.C. man arrested in cross-border drug smuggling operation

William Milton Barnes of Victoria faces multiple charges

Political heavyweights hit Washington in hunt for NAFTA deal

Officials from Prime Minister’s office, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland part of talks

Greenbelt Microgreens recall in B.C., Alberta, due to Listeria concerns

Canadian Food Inspection Agency says there have been no illnesses linked to the microgreens

Commit to harassment-free environment or forego federal arts funding: Joly

$552,000 coming from feds for training so arts organizations build, maintain respectful workplaces

Aquilini-linked ranch fined $70,000 for storing cranes on farmland

Pitt Meadows council supporting application to Agricultural Land Commission

Minister calls out misogyny, but PM says too soon to talk motive in van attack

Alek Minassian is charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 13 counts of attempted murder

Decorated Canadian pairs skaters Duhamel and Radford officially retire

The Ontario duo took bronze in pairs at the Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea

Most Read