Paving the way to Lax Kw’alaams

The $20 million Tuck Inlet Road paving project in Lax Kw’alaams has gotten underway this summer.

Adventure Paving workers begin work on Tuck Inlet Road in Lax Kw'alaams. The $2 million project has a 55 per cent FIrst Nations component to labour.

The $20 million Tuck Inlet Road paving project in Lax Kw’alaams has gotten underway this summer.

Starting July 7, and lasting into October, Adventure Paving, a Prince Rupert-based company, is repaving the connector road which links the village of Lax Kw’alaams and the ferry dock.

“Paving Tuck Inlet Road will ensure safe and reliable access to the residents of Lax Kw’alaams and visitors to the community. I know that the entire Lax Kw’alaams community has been looking forward to this project starting for the last year, and I’m pleased that paving will get underway,” said Todd Stone, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure.

The current gravel surface will be replaced entirely with pavement, while a bridge will be replaced and safety features like concrete barriers, speed reader boards and pullouts will line the 17.5km road. Single-alternating traffic will be provided while much of the work is done along the road.

Adventure Paving area manager Warren Beal said that the company is two weeks ahead of schedule in its construction, despite a two-week delay in the awarding of the contract.

“We’ve been putting in a lot of hours and pushing pretty hard to get this job done,” he said.

“Right now we’re on the bridge construction. So there’s one bridge to be installed and we’re preparing the ground for the foundations. We start drilling for piles [this] week … The asphalt paving by the end of this week will be 50 per cent complete.”

Beal added that the logistics on the project is quite intensive, with barging in almost two barges everyday of either asphalt or gravel, plus an additional five to six water taxis per day bringing people in and out.

“We’ve worked there in the past and we’ve done a lot of work in the surrounding communities, so we’re quite familiar with that type of work through barging and remote locations,” Beal said.

The project is part of the province’s ‘B.C. on the Move’ 10-year transportation plan, which involves First Nations’ projects meant to invigorate economic development.

It’s also a project listed as part of a proposed Province Impact Benefit Agreement package to Lax Kw’alaams as a financial benefit in signing on to support the Pacific NorthWest LNG project, outlines a community information package distributed to members in July.

Adventure Paving is also providing employment and work opportunities to the Band to the tune of at least $400,000 worth of work in the paving project.

“We’ve got about 35 per cent First Nations content on the job as far as labour goes,” said the area manager, adding in total there’s approximately 65 workers working on the project with subcontractors and engineering and another 100 indirect jobs related to barging and crushing.

Along with the paving come new expectations for drivers on the road and in Lax Kw’alaams now needing a valid driver’s identification and licence, with the road being considered a provincial highway.

RCMP officers in the area are working with residents to ensure they have the necessary certification to drive on the roads under the Motor Vehicle Act.

In addition to the Tuck Inlet Road, Adventure Paving was recently awarded a contract to pave all remaining gravel roads in the community of Lax Kw’alaams. Work on that project is slated to start later this year.