Mayor addresses dire need for upgrades to Highway 27

Vanderhoof mayor Gerry Thiessen is continuing to raise concerns about the need for more passing lanes on Highway 27 in between Vanderhoof and Fort St. James.

Vanderhoof mayor Gerry Thiessen is continuing to raise concerns about the need for more passing lanes on Highway 27 in between Vanderhoof and Fort St. James.

A meeting had been held in January this year by the Ministry of Transportation in Vanderhoof to discuss the need for upgrades to the highway. Since that time, not a lot has changed.

“Our concern is that everything we read and listen to tells us that there’s going to be a lot of industrial traffic between Vanderhoof and Fort St. James in the near future,” said Thiessen.

In particularly Thiessen mentioned an increased amount of fiber coming from the Fort St. James forest district as a result of pine beetle damage in the Vanderhoof district, and also increased activity as a result of the construction and eventual opening of the Mount Milligan mine.

“There is only one passing lane in between here and Fort St James, and there’s none on the return journey,” said Thiessen.

“If you get a passenger vehicle behind a convoy of trucks leaving the Fort, there’s only two things you can do.

“You either take your life in your hands and try and pass all those trucks, or you stay behind them, all the way to Vanderhoof – we just think that that’s a safety concern and the provincial government needs to address that,” he said.

Thiessen added that he is worried the process to get the funding for the lanes could take a substantial amount of time because the Ministry of Transportation is waiting for increased traffic numbers to be recorded.

“We are told that they are doing the engineering work at the moment – so basically trying to find where the right places are to build the lanes,” said Thiessen.

“They [Ministry of Transportation] are telling us that once increased traffic numbers show themselves they will then go to the provincial government for fundng and once they receive funding then they will put out the contracts, and then they will build the passing lanes.

“We as local government are really concerned about this because that could be a two to three year process and that’s just too long for the amount of traffic that’s expected – there will be too much activity between the two communities for that road to handle,” he said.