COMMENTARY · 11th August 2015
The need for improvements on Highway 37 between Kitimat and Terrace is no secret and has come up in Council more than once. In the past, we’ve received reports from concerned citizens about drivers passing people who are turning off into the dump, Cable Car and into the local shooting range, regardless of solid double lines or oncoming traffic.
On July 27th, the BC Government chose to invest $200,000 into the intersection of Haisla Boulevard and Kitamaat Village Road. Mayor Phil Germuth stated they hope to be able to get the entrances to Cable Car or the landfill done next year.
However, the Provincial Government is none too certain this funding will exist for 2016. The response from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure was that they hope this funding should be available, but because it is Federal Funding, they cannot speak on their behalf.
“This intersection was chosen because it is the main intersection accessing Kitamaat Village, and has more volume than other intersections in the area. It also was chosen because of its challenging alignment,” said a representative of the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. “The Ministry understands that there are additional intersections that are a concern to local residents and we are looking at improvements in the future.”
According to the press release issued by the Ministry: “The Province will invest $200,000 to reconfigure the intersection to improve sight lines for drivers turning onto Highway 37/Haisla Boulevard, and increase the turning radius for large vehicles turning on to Kitamaat Village Road.”
The need for this improvement, and many others, were brought forward by Councillor Mario Feldhoff on February 23rd, 2009. He made a motion to meet with Don Ramsay, the District Manager for the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure operating out of Terrace.
Feldhoff’s Motion, from the minutes of the meeting was to try and access grant money available at the time for: “’bite sized’” shovel ready improvement projects such as Cable Car acceleration and deceleration lanes, landfill turn-off, cemetery entrance and intersection alignment improvements where the Kitamaat Village Road meets Highway 37.”
This motion was called and carried unanimously.
Ramsay would come to Council on Monday, March 9th of 2009 to talk about the planned highway projects. None of these projects made the cut at the time, but the Kitimat Highway was scheduled to be ‘seal coated.’
He also told Council these projects were being addressed at a regional level, and areas with a history of collisions would be addressed first, the most likely location would be for acceleration and deceleration lanes at Cable Car.
At the regular meeting of Council on September 12th, 2012, Councillor Mary Murphy made a motion: “That Staff review, support, and lobby government to change the entrance to the Cable Car, to have an entrance and exit merge lane to improve traffic flow and address safety concerns.”
This motion was also called and carried unanimously.
Other motions from Council relating to the highway included a traffic count of the highway, the flashing sign at the top of the hill and lobbying for an 80 kilometres per hour speed limit from the Snowflake to the Hirsch Creek Bridge.
However, improvements along that stretch of highway are not the only concerns. The need to upgrade the Bridge on Haisla Boulevard has come up again and again. This project has been coming up every budget for the last several years and there have been applications for grant money and taxes put aside so the bridge could be upgraded.
Recently, on the 4th of August, while Council was asking questions following a presentation from Nichola Wade, who was giving a presentation to Council on Northwest Community Readiness, Mayor Phil Germuth asked is she was aware of the limitations on the bridge and the need to replace it.
“We don’t want to be delaying any mega projects, now would be a great time to do it. We have the RTA Modernization pretty much completed, and in between having an LNG FID, now would be a great time to work on that,” said Germuth.
Wade replied the Bridge is a challenge and it is the District of Kitimat’s challenge because the bridge belongs to them and it would be a significant investment. Her office brings the bridge back to the Ministry of Transportation regularly.
This came up in the Committee of the Whole on June 22nd as well. Mayor Germuth asked about it during a report on the Engineering Projects for 2015. He had been told the bridge had to be inspected prior to an overweight load going over it. However, these inspections can be problematic to the companies wanting to come or go. The head of the Engineering Department, Tim Gleig expressed the sooner they know when the load is going to be transported, it can be better addressed.
There was a statement from former CAO Ron Poole on the 22nd of April, 2013, where he expected Kitimat will have to foot the bill when the bridge finally collapses.
The Haisla Boulevard Bridge would appear to be a much more important piece of infrastructure then the intersection at the entrance of town, although the funds required to get this work done are are greater than those needed for the intersection. Without the bridge, people will have to go the long way on the dirt roads to get out of service centre, or invest in amphibious automobiles.
There is one other factor in this good news release which does need to be addressed. A few days after it was announced, the Liberal Government issued a statement saying that because our MLA, Robin Austin, was not present at the event, it was a sign the NDP did not support the creation of jobs.
According to Austin, he had not been invited to this event. According to Mayor Phil Germuth, the invitations were handled by the Provincial Government and the whole thing was put together at the last minute, on Friday, July 24th.
Which project is more in need of funding? With all the industrial projects looking at Kitimat, the answer is clearly the bridge, although there is no shortage of other safety projects which need to be done.
Cable car turn off
Comment by Pinnwheel on 16th August 2015
When heading to Terrace you have a left hand turning lane into cable car, But when heading from Terrace to Kitimat you don't, How safe is that "NOT Very" time and time again pepole coming from Terrace turning into cable car have someone right up there ass and that person pulls out to pass the guy turning in to cable car because there is no turning lane....
ACCIDENT just waiting to happen, mark my words someone is going to be killed because of this, it's just a matter of time.......
it really pisses me off that this will most likley be the outcome before something is done.
Comment by j.s. on 12th August 2015
if you drive around b.c.you will notice that almost every town has two lanes and proper turn offs for at least several miles its about time these goverments started bringing kitimat up to par with the rest of the provance.nevermind if the right intersection was chosen, it aall needs done ,like every ware else ..
waiting game again on progress
Comment by j.s. on 12th August 2015
this has been unacceptable as usual by these politicians , blaming each other for not inviting or not showing up for these important meetings . mary murphy had mentioned some of the concerns back in 2012, and nothing has been done or even decided yet,and how is it that two whole parking lots in kitimat took presidants over these way more important issues, and i,m sure they cost way over two hundred thousand dollars.
How about a newly paved highway
Comment by Crazy fun on 12th August 2015
I have driven around the province a lot this summer and have found the terrace to Kitimat highway to be the bumpiest in the province I need two seatbelt to keep myself from hitting the roof I say it's about time we stand up and tell the province we need a newly paved highway. We matter up here to