Jill Hayward – North Thompson Star/Journal
On Oct. 15, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure invited the public to attend an information session at the Barriere Lions Hall regarding upcoming passing lane projects on Highway 5 through the communities of Darfield and Vinsulla.
Project designs were on display, and Ministry staff were on-hand to provide information and answer questions about the current and planned projects.
Ministry staff also invited the public to provide comments.
In 2012 the Yellowhead Highway 5, Heffley Creek to Clearwater Passing Lane Study confirmed the need and locations for passing opportunities along the corridor.
Darfield and Vinsulla were identified as the top priority locations.
Ministry regional manager – project delivery Jennifer Fraser said they are currently focusing on the designs of each project to bring them to completion.
“This is all part of B.C.’s 10-year transportation plan called B.C. on the Move,” said Fraser. “We are almost through year one.”
She was enthusiastic about the Darfield project, noting, “This project resolves the very short passing lane in Darfield and also will realign Boulder Mountain Road which has very poor sight lines. This will make that intersection much safer by realigning access to the highway.”
Fraser said the cost of both projects will be approximately $13 million for Darfield and $7 million for Vinsulla.
“This is very exciting for residents of these communities,” said Fraser, “And the employment opportunities are exciting as well. The Darfield project will require two construction seasons and Vinsulla one construction season.”
Information presented at the meeting showed that the annual amount of daily traffic through the Darfield area on Highway 5 averaged out at 3,800 vehicles per day, with an increase during summer to 5,000 vehicles per day. Approximately 15 per cent of these numbers are commercial trucks.
A graph showed that between 2010 and 2014 there were six injury collisions and four property damage-only collisions in the area.
The proposed design specifics for the new passing lane show an extension of the existing 500 metre northbound climbing lane to 2.7 km, and the addition of a 2.8 km southbound passing lane. It also shows intersection improvements at Boulder Mountain Road and MacColl Road, a 2.5 m shoulder width, a 3.6 m center median in four-lane sections and wider shoulders at access.
The Darfield project will improve safety and mobility on Highway 5, provide assured passing lanes, extend the current 500 m northbound passing lane, improve access on and off the highway, improve alignment to provide better sight lines and also with have rumble strips.
Status of the Darfield project at this time is 75 per cent of the detail design completed, the acquisition of required property underway, and the construction schedule yet to be decided.
In regards to the Vinsulla project; the annual amount of daily traffic through Vinsulla shows averages of 5,300 vehicles per day, with an increase during summer to 7,000 vehicles per day, with approximately 15 per cent of these being commercial trucks.
A graph showed that between 2010 and 2014 there were three injury collisions and two property damage-only collisions in the area.
The proposed Vinsulla design includes construction of a two km northbound passing lane and a two m shoulder width. This will improve safety and mobility of Highway 5, provide assured northbound passing opportunities and greatly reduce driver frustration.
Ministry staff said the next steps will be to finalize the design for each project, acquire the properties involved, continue to consult with stakeholders, and then proceed with BC Bid tender posting and construction.
Fraser said there are no target dates available this early on but that the Ministry is putting together a website that will be a part of this highway project.