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British Columbia signs infrastructure funding agreement with federal and provincial governments

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by Richard Gilbert

The governments of Canada and B.C. announced a $2.2 billion initiative to improve transportation infrastructure, which includes an investment of $135 million to upgrade the Trans-Canada Highway through the Kicking Horse Canyon.

Infrastructure

The governments of Canada and British Columbia announced a $2.2 billion initiative to improve transportation infrastructure, which includes an investment of $135 million to upgrade the Trans-Canada Highway through the Kicking Horse Canyon.

Premier Gordon Campbell and Prime Minister Stephen Harper signed a federal-provincial agreement under the Building Canada Plan on Nov. 6, which provides funding to restore and upgrade Canada’s transportation assets.

B.C. is the first province to sign on to the new national infrastructure plan.

Under the framework agreement, the province will receive $2.2 billion over seven years to invest in roads, bridges, tunnels, ports, public transit and more.

“We are really pleased that the Ministry of Transportation has been able to capitalize on all federal government programs. This is new for B.C.,” said Jack Davidson, president of the B.C. Road Builders & Heavy Construction Association.

“What we need is a sustained program of road construction and maintenance in B.C. For 10 years we did not have any investment. Now there is not enough money in our society to catch up, but we are on the right track, which can be seen in our economic growth.”

Jeff Knight, spokesperson for the Ministry of Transportation, explained how the project will proceed.

“The funding that was announced will allow two more sections of Phase 3 to begin,” he said.

“The next two segments proceeding under last week’s funding announcement are the Brake Check to Yoho Park and Golden Hill to West Portal sections. Design will begin immediately on these sections. We are aiming to get to tender call in late 2008.”

The upgrades to the Trans Canada Highway in Kicking Horse Canyon include the construction of approximately 12 kilometres of twinned highway, which will be delivered in two parts.

According to Knight, the first section is 8.8 km long from the new Park Bridge to the west boundary of Yoho National Park.

Construction on this section of highway will include expansion of the highway to four lanes, a new bridge and approaches, an industrial vehicle overpass, construction of wildlife exclusion fencing with two crossing structures and 2.5 metre-wide shoulders for cyclists.

The second section from Golden Hill to West Portal includes 2.8 km of four-lane highway, an underpass, wildlife passage and exclusion fencing, along with a separate cycling/pedestrian trail in the urban area.

As part of the improvements to the Trans-Canada Highway through the Kicking Horse Canyon, the Government of Canada will fund up to one-half of eligible costs, to a maximum of $64.2 million.

B.C. is contributing $70.1 million to the project, which has a total estimated cost of $134.5 million.

Phase 3 involves upgrading approximately 17 km of the Trans-Canada Highway to four lanes, from Golden to the west entrance of Yoho National Park as well as additional upgrades.

The B.C. Ministry of Transportation completed conceptual planning studies in 2004 and preliminary engineering studies are underway.

Completion of phase 3 of the project is contingent on future federal cost sharing with the province.

The Government of Canada is investing $33 billion nationally in infrastructure projects under Building Canada, the Government of Canada’s new long-term infrastructure plan. Federal financial support for highway improvements through the Kicking Horse Canyon is conditional. It depends on the initiative meeting all applicable federal eligibility requirements and a full federal due diligence review of this project.

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