It’s the filling in the sandwich, the shiny buckle on the belt, the diamond pendant on the necklace…
We’re talking about three kilometres of Highway 97, just south of Prince George that we’ll transform into four lanes from two lanes, and link with recently improved four-lane sections. The stretch starts just north of Stone Creek Bridge (about 25 kilometres south of Prince George) and connects at Williams Road, north of the CN Rail bridge.
Like most centrepieces, the area will require some extra work and attention to get right. In fact, this one is well beyond our usual four-laning project. Take a flyover with our drone and see the terrain we’re working with, from a bird’s eye view…
Alongside the Fraser River, two new lanes will be built. The area around the new section and down the steep embankment will be reinforced with rip rap to shore up support for the road and provide scour protection from the major waterway.
Because the current stretch of road has been hit with slides in the past, we’ll build about 800 metres of retaining wall to keep rock, soil, mud and other debris off the road (and motorists moving). We’ll also do some major work on the existing road base to improve drainage and strengthen the highway.
We do have one “kink” to deal with – a sharp turn that slows people down to about 70 kilometres an hour, from 100 kilometres an hour. We’ll straighten and smooth that out to improve traffic flow and safety.
Nearby, the CN rail overpass bridge will be replaced with a new bridge that will provide higher and wider clearance. The train will run on the existing bridge until the new bridge, built adjacent to it, is ready.)
Oh, and one more thing…we’re re-positioning the driveways to some rural properties, to provide better sightlines for motorists pulling onto and leaving the highway. (Improved views for motorists entering and exiting these spots are a safety boost for all travellers.)
When this crowning jewel of a project is finished – and joined with the other two four-lane stretches – it will provide 11.5 kilometres of continuous four-lane highway, complete with wider shoulders and paved median. The project is part of the Cariboo Connector, now in Phase 2. In all, nine projects will add 30 kilometres of new four-lane road to Highway 97. All will be underway by 2017 – the same year we’re expecting the Stone Creek to Williams Road stretch to be finished.
It’s a big boon to north-south movement on this major trade and travel route. And while this is one element in one section, it’s all part of a bigger effort to keep B.C. on the move.