Over the course of a five-day tour that included 10 communities, Todd Stone, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, announced more than $137 million in new funding over the next few years on behalf of the provincial and federal governments.
The funding will be used to improve safety and accessibility on roads, highways, and bridges as well as community development.
“It’s a privilege to tour this beautiful region and see all the work being done to expand capacity and improve the safety of northern B.C.’s transportation network,” Stone said. “I’m pleased with the amount of investment that has gone into these projects so vital for the growth, safety, and enhancement of the communities along Highway 16.”
The funding includes $58.57 million in federal and almost $79 million in provincial contributions that were announced as the minister visited the communities of Terrace, Gitlaxt'aamiks, Gitwinkshlkw, Laxgalts'ap, Gingolx, Prince Rupert, the Hazeltons, Smithers, Prince George and Mackenzie to meet with First Nations, local governments and community leaders.
Between Oct. 24 and Oct. 28, 2016, Stone made five announcements with federal and provincial partnership funding for the following:
- Five new passing lanes along Highway 16;
- Intersection improvements at Highway 37 and Highway 16;
- New bridges on Highway 37 over the Nass River and on Highway 97 over the Parsnip River; and
- four-laning Highway 16 between Bunce and Blackwater.
As well, the minister provided an update on the Highway 16 CNR Mile 28 project to announce that the design is complete and moving into the tender phase. Construction is expected to begin in spring 2017 with completion expected in summer 2019.
On top of the upgrades to roads and bridges, Stone was joined by community leaders and First Nations representatives to announce a new $16-million recreation complex in the Hazeltons called Heart of the Hazeltons. This new centre – funded by local ($4 million), federal ($8 million) and provincial (up to $4 million) contributions – will not only serve as a recreational facility with a new ice arena for skating and hockey, but also as a health and wellness centre.
“Being part of this important announcement for this community was truly heart-warming and was the highlight of my tour to these communities,” Stone said. “It was clear that the communities of the Hazeltons will benefit from this new recreation and wellness centre, and that the youth of the area will have an important place to connect, to learn and to play.”
Continued investment in the northern region is a key priority for the Province to ensure people are able to travel Highway 16 safely and without a lot of congestion. In additional to the federal partnership, $7.5 million of provincial funding has been committed to the re-paving of the Prince Rupert arterial at Second Avenue and McBride from the BC Ferry Terminal to McClymont Bridge ($4.5 million) and the replacement of the Ksi Sii Aks (Tseax 80) Bridge on Highway 113 ($3 million). The ministry also committed to advancing design work on the Tseax 2 bridge.
As part of the tour, Stone also met with the Highway 16 advisory council to give a detailed update on all five steps of the Highway 16 Transportation Action Plan, including transit expansion, community transportation operating and capital grant program, First Nations driver education program, and webcams and transit shelters.
On top of these investments, Stone also announced that free, public Wi-Fi will soon be installed at 25 rest areas throughout the province. Rest areas are critical to the tourism industry, as well as the commercial trucking sector by allowing drivers to rest and access washroom facilities.
A key commitment of B.C. on The Move is investment in northern B.C. that will support growing industrial traffic, ensuring that highways, bridges and side roads can safely and reliably serve both industry users and residents. Since 2001, the total provincial investment in the northern region has been $2.2 billion.
B.C. on the Move is the B.C. government’s 10-year plan for the improvement of the province’s transportation network. The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure will invest almost $2.7 billion over three years to improve British Columbia’s transportation network.
B.C. on the Move is available online: www.gov.bc.ca/bconthemove