B.C. blazes construction trail

VICTORIA — A two-year project to upgrade more than 200 Forest Service roads in B.C. is rolling along as scheduled.

The province allocated $20 million in targeted upgrades in an effort to improve travel and safety conditions for residents in about 70 rural communities.

“For many rural communities, Forest Service roads are a vital part of the local road network,” says Forest and Range Minister Pat Bell. “We’ve already spent $14 million since we started work this spring and we’re well on our way to meet our $20 million commitment by the end of the fiscal year.”

During the past year, both the provincial and federal governments injected new funding to stimulate economic development and improve travel conditions on Forest Service roads.

First announced by Premier Gordon Campbell at the 2008 Union of B.C. Municipalities convention, the Ministry of Forests and Range is providing $20 million over two years. In April, the federal government, as part of the Canada Economic Action Plan, committed $10 million for Forest Service Road capital projects. This incremental $30 million in targeted funding is in addition to the Ministry of Forests and Range’s $20 million annual capital and operating budget for Forest Service roads.

Work began this past spring and will continue through the 2011 construction season. Works includes bridge repairs and replacements, ditching and culvert repairs, clearing brush to improve sight lines, removing loose rock from slope faces, new road safety signage, and road widening, grading and resurfacing.

B.C.’s 55,000-km network of Forest Service roads is bigger than the provincial highway system. Road maintenance funding is used to improve safety on Forest Service roads, which includes the establishment of radio protocols, speed enforcement through expanded use of radar guns, and the expansion of the Vehicle Identification Plates Program.

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