Four Laning BC Highway 1: Your Questions Answered

traffic moves through large rock with cut through on the Trans Canada highway near Revelstoke

If you’ve driven in British Columbia, chances are pretty good you’ve been on the Trans-Canada Highway. It’s the primary east-west connection through our beautiful province, our main gateway to the rest of Canada, and a vital route for travel, tourism and trade. The section of BC Highway 1 between Kamloops and the Alberta border is also one of the most technically challenging corridors in the province and despite a lot of work to improve this part of the Trans-Canada in recent years, there are still many sections with sharp curves, steep grades and narrow bridges to tackle. We often hear from folks asking about four-laning this stretch, so we thought we’d share the most frequently asked questions (and their answers) here for you:

Why is it taking so long to modernize the road to a four-lane standard throughout?

The same mountain ranges, river valleys and adjacent railways that make this route so stunning to travel through, also create a unique set of issues to tackle in order to plan, design and expand the corridor. These issues include design considerations for avalanches, slope stability, floods, the environment, archaeology and stakeholder input, to name a few. Construction challenges associated with mountainous terrain include cost, blasting, scaling, as well as traffic and schedule management, weather challenges, consideration of other infrastructure (such as railways) and the short construction season (from mid-April to mid-October). Once construction has started on a project along this corridor, improvement projects typically require multiple construction seasons. A program of this size is very expensive to undertake, and we need to balance limited funds against many priorities.

Crews work to scale rock face on the Trans Canada Highway

How do you decide which parts of the highway are updated first?

We look at the entire corridor from multiple technical perspectives to identify needs. We then prioritize projects to improve sections that have higher than average crash histories, high traffic volumes and bridges that need replacing, while also keeping other issues, such as maintaining mobility along the corridor during construction, in mind as well. We also need to understand the impact of proposed improvements on indigenous interests and communities along with a wide range of stakeholders.

Can’t you just put tunnels in where there isn’t enough width?

When we plan projects, analyzing options is a critical part of our process.  We evaluate the pros of those options against their technical difficulty and cost to build and maintain.  If a design includes tunnels while achieving the objectives within the available budget, they might become part of the final solution.

Wildlife grazes alongside the Kicking Horse Canyon stretch of BC Highway 1 - the Trans Canada

How long will it take to complete the program?

There are 338 kilometres of Highway 1 between Kamloops and the Alberta Border under provincial control (with Parks Canada responsible for the remaining 102 kilometres) and there are currently 121 kilometres that are four lanes or more. We expect that the entire effort will take many decades to complete.

Upgrading the Trans-Canada between Kamloops and the Alberta border to a modern, 100 km/h, four-lane standard, will allow traffic to move more safely and efficiently. Despite a lot of work to improve the Trans-Canada in recent years, there are still many sections with sharp curves, steep grades and narrow bridges so we have a lot of work to still do. It’s our driving concern, and we are working as hard as we can to get there. We hope that this helps answer your questions. If you have any other questions about this or anything else the ministry does – let us know in the comments below.

Learn more about the Trans-Canada Highway in BC:

Page 1 of 36 comments on “Four Laning BC Highway 1: Your Questions Answered”

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  1. Hwy 1 closed at Golden and traffic rerouted along Hwys93 and95.. The hwy that comes from Golden thru Radium has large trucks using their retarder brakes at all hours during evening and early morning. Its most annoying to hear this very loud noise. The area at the Welcome to Radium sign is flat …there is no downhill grade or uphill grade..there is no need to use these loud air brakes. I wish someone would put up a sign to ask truckers to not use these brakes. Would that be so difficult?

    Reply
    • Hi there Don – thanks for your comment. We’ve sent it to our staff in the area and will let you know what we hear back.

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      • Hi again Don. Our staff in the area are unclear which section of the highway you are referring to and have asked if you could kindly reach out to them to discuss this further? Engine air brakes are a standard sign, however they are an advisory and not enforceable by law. Please connect with Hilary.Barnett@gov.bc.ca or Shane.Jager@gov.bc.ca. Thank you!

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  2. One key way to keeps costs down is to avoid the construction of interchanges at major junctions on the TCH in the BC interior. Traffic lights are only a fraction of the cost and have been highly effective on the Vancouver Island TCH north of Victoria.

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  3. It only took 5 or 6 years to build the coquihalla, I guess Bill Bennet junior’s home being Kelowna had nothing to do with it. Obviously money is not the problem, it’s just the political will to get thinks done. There are a few highways in BC that need 4 landing
    Hwy 97 to Prince George
    Hwy 97 north of Armstrong
    Alaska Hwy Dawson Creek to Pink Mountain
    There are more I’m sure . They have been working on the Kamloops to Salmon Arm section for about 20 years and not 1/2 done. To bad Salmon Arm doesn’t have a resident premier.
    Please, throw some real money at it, work around the clock, 7 days a week, then we might see some real progress. Remember the Coquihalla. Political will, that’s all it takes. Alas, I digress, perhaps we can hold the politician ( past and present) responsibility for the carnage on our Hwys.

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  4. Will there be any improvements made on the Upper Levels Highway? How about Highway 1 from 264th Street in Langley to Chilliwack?

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  5. Any future plans for the stretch of road west of Golden to the weigh scales?
    The distance is approximately 23 km. It appears not to be technically difficult in terms of earth moving, etc., so I would think the cost would be lower.
    There are several collisions a year in this stretch.

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Hello Chris – thank you for your question about future four-laning and our apologies in the delay in our response. The ministry is continually assessing and prioritizing sections for future improvement and advances projects as funding allows. At this time, there is no timeline for the improvements between the Golden weigh scales and the Town of Golden.

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    • Hello Darren,

      Thank you for your question and our apologies for the delay in our response. We are currently in the planning and active construction phases for works deemed higher priority. A complete corridor review was undertaken in the past and a by pass option was a part of that review; however it is not something that we are currently considering at this location. We hope that this information is helpful.

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    • Hello Darren – thanks again for connecting with us here. The ministry is not currently working on an expansion project through Sorrento. As new projects are added to the TCH program, the design process will include public consultation and input from the public and others will help define project design. We hope that this information is helpful.

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  6. Just wondering if Tran BC has any coordination with parks Canada for the 4 laning since Glacier Park is the worst part of the highway and there is no information about any possible upgrades to Hwy 1 on PCs website. Also wondering if you have considered putting a median in on two lane sections to improve safety while waiting for the funding for a full 4 lanes. P.S the Revelstoke Bridge is a major bottleneck please twin it ASAP Thank you

    Reply
    • Hello Darren – thanks for your message. We reached out to our staff in the interior for more information on upgrades to the federal sections of the TCH. They provided us with an email for you to use for specific information in that regard: A program of this size is very expensive to undertake, and we need to balance limited funds against many priorities. We have shared your feedback regarding the Revelstoke Bridge to our staff in the area as well.

      We hope that this is helpful! Safe travels.

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  7. Just curious if the Ministry had the chance to review potential cost savings associated with preparing for six lanes for the route (undertaking preliminary timber removal, basic dirt works, etc.)?

    Many thanks,

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    • Hi there TC – thanks for your question. Just to clarify – are you asking if the ministry estimated cost (and cost savings) of six laning vs. four laning?

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  8. If you think you can’t build highway improvements because you have no money then consider building toll roads. The coquihalla was a toll road and I didn’t mind paying to drive a decent road. If you need further information on toll roads you can check out Houston Texas bypass or Denver Colorado bypass

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    • Thanks for this, Ronald. Yes, the Coquihalla was a toll road and the ministry has implemented tolls in the past. We will share your suggestion forward with the project team. Safe travels.

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  9. Decades and the USA did 60 years ago, national disgrace, third world countries with better highways and both with tougher mountains, higher passes and bigger snow falls. Just a lack of political leadership. Gas taxes spent elsewhere as usual. Decades….

    Reply
    • Hello Ken – thanks for your comment. We can’t speak to political leadership, third world infrastructure or gas taxes but we can assure you that ministry staff lives and works in BC and we continue to work toward an improved TCH corridor for everyone to travel on safely.

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  10. I find I have to hold back my laughter at the following comment…

    “Government (both federal and provincial) must balance the priorities of their constituents with fiscal responsibility.”

    If our governments practised fiscal responsibility to it’s constituents instead of squandering it away on many other things we’d have these roads (and other things) built already.

    Governments now are taking in considerably more money from many sources that they didn’t have 50 years ago yet we constantly seem to be struggling to improve our infrastructures, not to mention so many other things.

    I say it’s time to practise what you preach.

    Reply
    • Thanks for your feedback Rick – we can appreciate your concerns to be sure. We certainly try to work with the federal government for additional funding wherever possible because the cost of building has also increased over the years, as have the number of travellers on BC highways.

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  11. The comment above stating that “the entire effort will take many decades to complete” is understandable while being unacceptable. People are dying on this road routinely; if we could build the Coquihalla in a relatively short timeframe, this can for sure be sped up. It’s all about the will. I get that the Coquihalla and related highways didn’t have to face the many other issues faced on Hwy 1, such as traffic/population/built up areas etc, but something needs to be done to speed this up. For one thing, I guarantee that if we were talking about a roadway in Quebec that was similarly busy and important, it would be done already. Both governments need to take this seriously. Other countries are building amazing highways and solving problems. We’re doing it at turtle speed.

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    • Thanks for your feedback, Bryan. Unfortunately, it’s not just the population along the corridor that needs to be taken into consideration but also the geography, construction season, and provincial budget. Government (both federal and provincial) must balance the priorities of their constituents with fiscal responsibility. We live here and we travel this corridor as well. We understand the needs and are working as hard and as fast as we can to achieve them. We hope this helps clarify. Safe travels.

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      • Please understand I don’t blame the timeframe on ministry staff. I blame it on political will. There should be a reasonable time frame, a goal to achieve. “Decades to complete” is just utterly inadequate for the needs. As mentioned in someone else’s comments, toll it if needed. I’d happily pay a few bucks to travel highway 1 if it didn’t mean I wanted to pull my hair out or risk my family’s safety on every trip. I just think governments need to put a higher priority on this. But I also know staff in the ministry are doing their best and working with the tools provided to them.

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  12. Three valley gap west of revelstoke very dangerous section rocks still coming down please fix this would love to see it double laned from revelstoke to sicamous please. When is this section being upgraded ? Thank you

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  13. Instant about the cost of up Grade,s. But we need more bigger Crews on the construction or multiple companies to speed it up. What’s out here now is taking way too long to get anything done and mess up all schedules they keep the world turning in transportation of every day goods

    Reply
    • Thank you for the feedback. Many of the projects along the TransCanada highway are very complex and technical in nature and involve steps such as blasting and slope stabilization. In order to proceed with the work safely the project must follow a step by step process that at times may seem slow. This is done to ensure safety of the crews, the public and prevent damage to the existing infrastructure. We hope this is helpful. Safe travels.

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  14. The first mention I could find of the “Kamloops to Alberta Program” in Ministry news releases was in 2013. Was this when the ‘program’ officially came into existence?

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  15. At the current rate of progress there is no chance of 4 laning of the provincial sections of the highway being completed before the 2060s. I suspect some sections will NEVER be 4 laned. The so called Kamloops to Alberta Program has no plan, no timescale, no feasibility studies and no cost estimate. The government really needs to work out what else it can do to address the horrendous accident rate on this highway and the increasing congestion. I hold out no hope whatsoever that it will.

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