Residents of the Lax Kw’alaams community will soon have a smoother trip driving up and down Tuck Inlet Road, after the Province of B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure is scheduled to pave the road in June.
A public open house took place on Feb. 25 with over 100 residents showing up to voice their opinions and support for the project in paving the existing gravel surface.
“Overall it was very positive, a very good turnout,” said Ministry of Transportation Skeena district manager Darrell Gunn last week.
“We had some really great feedback collected with just a lot of great local knowledge about the road itself and some ideas to incorporate into the project, which we’ve taken in and are evaluating and going through that process.”
The 17.5-kilometre Tuck Inlet Road, which provides a link to the ferry system to Prince Rupert from Lax Kw’alaams, is set to be improved with safety features, such as concrete barriers, speed reader boards and pullouts, as well as a replaced bridge.
Some residents also brought up the environmental questions that may arise with a project of this nature.
“We told them what we’re doing as far as addressing any sort of environmental concerns. We have very high standards for our projects, but they did have some questions about any sort of construction delays during the project, especially catching the ferry, so of course we’re going to be building that into our traffic management plan,” said Gunn, adding that single-lane alternating traffic will be implemented to avoid disruption to ferry users.
While no solid timetable is set, Gunn expects construction to be wrapped up by the early fall or late September-early October.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed with the Lax Kw’alaams last year to begin engineering work on the project. The MOU is part of the ministry’s B.C. on the Move 10-year transportation plan.
In terms of employment, the district manager said the province is examining how to include area jobs in the construction.
“It’ll be a tender going out on B.C. Bid, but we are looking at, right now, different opportunities to include some opportunities for the local community to be involved with employment and being a part of the project,” said Gunn.
“It’s going to make a big difference – just the mobility, the safety, the wear and tear – [the improvements] are going to be very, very positive.”