VICTORIA, B.C. — Partnering with a First Nations band and exploration companies, the B.C. government is undertaking a number of highway projects to improve transport and safety of road users.
The province and the Xaxlip (Hawk Lip) Band will work together to immediately fix a badly damaged section of Hwy. 99, north of Lillooet.
A section of the highway that passes through the Fountain Indian Reserve 1A has become unsafe due to cracking and shifting in an area known as the Ten Mile Slide.
The agreement with the Xaxlip calls for the ministry to provide geotechnical, environmental and archeological data and members of the Xaxlip to assist with repairs. The immediate repair work, which includes stabilizing the areas that have shifted, repaving and removal of debris obstructing the highway, has begun and should be complete by weeks end.
The safety of the travelling public is a priority, and this agreement with the Xaxlip will address outstanding concerns with the safety at Ten Mile Slide, said Transport Minister Kevin Falcon. In addition, the agreement provides a framework to continue discussions with the Xaxlip on further stabilization and improvement projects.
Once the immediate safety repairs are done, the ministry and the Xaxlip will look at long-term solutions to further stabilize the highway and embankment, address ways to prevent further slides and protect features that are of cultural interest to the Xaxlip.
The provincial government also recently awarded $65 million in royalty credits under the Infrastructure Royalty Credit Program to 15 companies for 19 road and pipeline projects.
The royalty credits lever, at minimum, an additional $65 million in new private sector spending for a total construction investment in new roads and pipelines of at least $130 million. These 19 new road and pipeline projects will support oil and gas exploration and production and improve access to new and underdeveloped areas of northeast B.C.
In addition to this program, in the past three years B.C. has awarded $90 million of royalty credits for road projects and $36.5 million for pipeline projects, supporting the development of 57 road and 17 pipeline projects.
As well, a new four-lane section of the Okanagan Connector completes the Coquihalla Highway system and celebrates the 30th anniversary since its construction was first announced.
An $18.25-million investment has four-laned a nine-km stretch of Highway 97C between Garcia and Courtney lakes, just east of Merritt. It was the last two-lane section on the 300-km Coquihalla system. The upgrade improves efficiency by allowing drivers to maintain the highways normal speed of 100 km/h, instead of adjusting to 90 km/hr.
The Coquihalla system provides motorists with quick and safe access to and from the Interior and has spurred enormous economic activity, Falcon said. British Columbia is known for ambitious highway projects, and that is a tradition we are continuing with other major investments including the Kicking Horse Canyon, the Sea-to-Sky, the William R. Bennett Bridge in Kelowna, and the Gateway Program.
For more information about B.C.s major highway projects, visit www.th.gov.bc.ca/projects.htm.
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