The provincial government is facing cost pressures in designing a planned overpass of CN rail tracks at a level crossing on Hwy16 west of Terrace. (File photo)

The provincial government is facing cost pressures in designing a planned overpass of CN rail tracks at a level crossing on Hwy16 west of Terrace. (File photo)

Province shelves Hwy16 overpass project

Province cites complexity of construction plan for rail crossing between Prince Rupert and Terrace

The provincial government has shelved, at least for now, a planned vehicle overpass over the CN tracks where they cross Hwy16 50km west of Terrace.

First announced in 2015 at an anticipated cost of $37 million — $19.5 million from the province and $17.5 million from the federal government — the cost would now have been more than $57 million.

With the federal contribution capped at $17.5 million, the provincial contribution would then be more than double its initial $19.5 million.

“The government reviews its budgets and has to make some choices which are not taken lightly,” said Dan Baker, the acting district manager for the transportation and infrastructure ministry, adding the ministry allocates its spending where it will get the best viable return.

READ MORE: CN level crossing project likely over budget

“At the time this was regarded as a good project. It just didn’t work out,” he said.

The level crossing, which features a twisty ‘S’ curve for traffic crossing over CN’s tracks, is the last of its kind along Hwy16 within B.C. and replacing it with an overpass was touted as a safety measure and in recognition of the growing volume of rail traffic to and from Prince Rupert’s port operations.

Costs began to escalate when a first design concept involving extending the highway into the Skeena River to eliminate the ‘S’ curve was abandoned early on to safeguard fish and other habitat.

The alternative was then to build up into the rock bluffs on the other side of the highway, said Baker.

“That would essentially have meant two significant portions to the project — approaches on each side of 1.8 kilometres up and over the rock bluffs and then down to grade for a bridge over the [CN] tracks,” he said.

Grading and rock blasting needed for the approaches to the overpass and the structural design of the overpass itself were cited as factors making the project a complex one. As envisioned, it would have taken approximately two years to build.

Despite putting the project on hold, the design is considered “shelf ready” should the financing needed ever be put into place.

“There would be a design review as design standards change but this project remains the preferred option,” said Baker.

Instead, the province is to spend $5 million this summer for added safety measures to ensure drivers are more aware of the level crossing.

There’ll be new guardrails, ones that are flared at their start to lessen the chances vehicles will drive into them, and speed reader boards to tell drivers they are exceeding the 30km an hour speed limit through the ‘S’ curve.

“So if a driver is coming in a little bit hot, there’ll be an extra incentive to slow down,” said Baker of the reader boards.

As well, signs with flashing lights will be installed.

Baker said the work will be managed by the ministry and undertaken by companies who already have contracts with the ministry and by equipment hired through its standard day labour list.

Although the federal government committed $17.5 million to the project, no monies were ever sent because no work milestones were ever reached.

With the project now on hold, it’s up to the federal government to decide what to do with that money.

The project had no financial contributions from CN.

CN RailHighway 16

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Wainwright Marine Services Ltd.’s “Ingenika” tugboat went missing in the Garner Canal area south and east of Kitimat on Feb. 11, resulting in two deaths and the rescue of a third man. (Wainwright Marine Photo)
Tug union demands Transport Canada protect workers along B.C. coast and rivers

ILWU makes safety demands following the deaths of two men and the rescue of a third

High winds blow wet snow in Prince Rupert on Feb. 24. The region is expecting two to four cm of snow and winds up to 100 km per hour. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
High wind warnings for North Coast, up to 4 cm of snow expected

Wet snow makes driving conditions in Prince Rupert slippery

Pink shirt day was celebrated at Pineridge Elementary School by staff and students in a stand against bullying. Mr. Craig, a work-experience student from Charle Hays Secondary School is seen with students in front of the hearts for kindness board on Feb. 24. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Pineridge students stand against bullying

Prince Rupert students in the pink with kindness

A Prince Rupert neighbourhood on Feb. 23, showing various housing with an apartment building development in the background. Housing advocates in the city say affordable housing is scarce.(Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Prince Rupert Recruitment campaign creates housing availability debate

“There is a serious disconnect here, with the new recruitment campaign,” - Paul Lagace

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

A 50-year-old man was stabbed in an altercation that started with a disagreement about physical distancing. (File photo)
Argument about physical distancing escalates to stabbing in Nanaimo

Victim, struck with coffee cup and then stabbed, suffers minor injuries; suspect arrested

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
NDP will not trigger election as long as pandemic continues: Singh

‘“We will vote to keep the government going’

“Support your city” reads a piece of graffiti outside the Ministry of Finance office. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Slew of anti-bylaw graffiti ‘unacceptable’ says Victoria mayor, police

Downtown businesses, bylaw office and Ministry of Finance vandalized Wednesday morning

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

According to a new poll, a majority of Canadians want to see illicit drugs decriminalized. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Majority of Canadians think it’s high time to decriminalize illicit drugs: poll

More than two-times the B.C. residents know someone who died from an overdose compared to rest of Canada

Photograph By @KAYLAXANDERSON
VIDEO: Lynx grabs lunch in Kamloops

A lynx surprises a group of ducks and picks one off for lunch

Most Read