MLA irked by budget hike for Highway 1 expansion in Shuswap

MLA irked by budget hike for Highway 1 expansion in Shuswap

Former Transportation Minister Todd Stone critical of $61.1 million increase

  • May. 11, 2020 10:00 a.m.

By Michael Potestio/Kamloops This Week

The former minister of transportation isn’t pleased with a number of shortcomings in upcoming roadwork expanding Highway 1 through the Shuswap area, east of Kamloops.

The provincial NDP government has issued a tender for phase one of the expansion project — a 3.3-kilometre stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway from Chase Creek Road to Chase West.

Work is scheduled to begin later this summer and will involve four-laning the highway, installing protected T-intersections at Chase Creek Road and Shuswap Avenue, adding a pedestrian crossing and multi-use pathway to link the Neskonlith Indian Band and the Village of Chase and building a cattle underpass and new frontage road.

The project, however, comes with a $61.1 million budget increase — to $260.3 million.

Kamloops-South Thompson Liberal MLA Todd Stone, who oversaw project planning as transportation minister before the NDP gained power in 2017, said the current government is providing less for more money.

Stone noted the project contains fewer kilometres of road expansion, a more restrictive type of interchange, is behind schedule and lacks a timeline for the proposed third phase.

Phase one was supposed to include full-access interchanges rather than protected T-intersections, which Stone said provide limited access.

“If you’re heading from Kamloops to Chase, a protected T (intersection) access enables you to go into the Village of Chase, but you can’t come out of the Village of Chase at that same location,” he said, noting an interchange allows for an overpass.

Stone estimated the government is saving about $25 million per interchange by making the change.

He also noted this phase was ready to begin in the summer of 2017.

In a release, the NDP government said original estimates for the Chase four-laning project, completed in 2015, were done “with limited engagement and engineering and reflect a very early level of understanding about the project.”

Read more: Tender for construction of Salmon River Bridge to be issued in coming months

Read more: Trans-Canada Highway to be expanded to four lanes in Chase

Read more: Illegal dumping increasing along North Okanagan-Shuswap roads

“Since then, significant detailed engineering investigations, along with consultation with the Pespesellkwe of the Secwépemc Nation and the Village of Chase, have been completed,” the government press release stated, adding that work, combined with increasing labour costs and a hot construction market, resulted in the budget increase.

Stone said that claim is “simply not true,” arguing enough engineering investigations were done and the project was tender-ready in 2017.

“The design was done, the engineering work was done,” he said.

The other two phases include roadwork from Hoffman’s Bluff to Chase Creek Road, west of phase one, and Chase West to the Chase Creek Bridge to the east.

Stone said that eastern section was originally set to extend to Jade Mountain — a 3.4-kilometre section that is now just 1.6 kilometres in length.

According to the province, that phase will involve highway widening and an interchange at Brooke Drive, as well as other improvements on Brooke at Shuswap Avenue. Detailed design work and consultation is said to be ongoing, with work to start in 2021.

As for the Hoffman’s Bluff section, Stone noted it was only mentioned in the news release as no longer being in the construction schedule.

“That tells me that we’re not going to be able to expect to get that section done,” Stone said. “It’s doubtful at this point as to when it will start.”

The release stated the segment remains a priority, but as it runs through the Neskonlith reserve, the government is continuing to develop a design, determine the property required and address concerns of the band.

In 2017, Stone said, his government was “substantially in agreement with the Neskonlith” and all that remained was to secure a specific federal approval, which could have taken up to a year to receive.

“Chief Judy Wilson and I had spent a lot of time ensuring the needs of the Neskonlith Indian Band were met,” Stone said.

Stone believes the project has been altered to address cost escalation, which he blames largely on the requirement of union-only labour and three year delay. He said he intends to press the government in the weeks ahead regarding why the project cost has increased while its scope has shrunk.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

BC Liberalstrans-canada highway

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Vernon Vipers defeated the Salmon Arm Silverbacks 3-1 to secure the top spot in the BC Hockey League Vernon pod Friday, May 7, 2021. (Lisa Mazurek Photography)
VIDEO: Vipers beat Salmon Arm, clinch top spot in BCHL Vernon pod

Goaltender James Porter Jr. was a wall for the Vipers, who outscored the Silverbacks 3-1 Friday

A proposed development would see two four-storey affordable housing complexes erected on Adair Street in Armstrong, next to the Nor-Val Arena. (Google Maps)
Local tenants to be prioritized for Armstrong affordable housing project

Staff have drafted an expression of interest to find a developer to move forward with on the project

The 2021 Salmon Arm Roots and Blues Festival will be a virtual event and is slated to take place Aug. 13 and 14.(Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)
Virtual Salmon Arm Roots and Blues returns for 2021

Participating artists will stream live during two-night event

A medical worker prepares vials of the COVID-19 vaccines, Chinese Sinopharm, left, Sputnik V, center, and Pfizer at a vaccine centre, in the Usce shopping mall in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, May 6, 2021. Serbian authorities are looking for incentives for people to boost vaccination that has slowed down in recent weeks amid widespread anti-vaccination and conspiracy theories in the Balkan nation. The government has also promised a payment of around 25 euros to everyone who gets vaccinated by the end of May. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
38 new COVID-19 cases, more than 335k vaccines administered in Interior Health

Interior Health also to start targeted vaccinations in high transmission neighbourhoods

Darren Landy stands next to his six-by-10-foot trailer that he uses to haul yard waste to the Columbia Shuswap Regional District landfill in Salmon Arm. Because the trailer is tandem axle, he is charged for disposal. There is no fee for yard waste dropped off by car or single-axle trailers. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)
Resident caught in tandem-axle dilemma at Salmon Arm landfill

Darren Landy argues larger single-axle trailers loaded with yard waste are being dumped for free

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

City of Vernon Coun. Dalvir Nahal proposed two blocks of Main Street be closed to bolster recovery for downtown businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Caitlin Clow - Vernon Morning Star)
Vernon’s ‘support local’ Main Street closure would cost city $24K, staff say

Bylaw costs, loss of parking revenue and equipment logistics behind price tag

Five properties have been added to the Lake Country fire protection zone, after council moved to expand the local service area Tuesday, May 4, 2021. (Google Maps)
Lake Country expands fire protection zone, covering 5 exposed properties

The properties petitioned to join the local service area after being left out ‘for reasons unknown’

VSAR’s Air Rescue One unit assisted in a rescue in West Kelowna May 3, 2021. (VSAR screenshot)
VIDEO: VSAR’s Air Rescue One team assists in West Kelowna Rescue

The Vernon Search and Rescue helicopter team pulled off a successful rescue Monday

Peachland resident and cleanup volunteer Lloyd Stinson Sotas holds up a discarded TV riddled with bullet holes. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
PHOTOS: Peachland residents clean up community watershed

More than 70 people gave back to Mother Earth by assisting with the cleanup

Officials are surveying the streets of Vernon to get a better sense of the issue of homelessness in the city, as part of the province’s point-in-time homeless count for 2021. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Province conducts homeless count in Vernon

It’s the first time Vernon has been included in the provincial homeless count

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

Most Read