Local businesses are backing the idea of improving sections of the Pine Pass.
Just recently, the Northern Development Initiative Trust and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure completed studies on the stretch of highway 97, between Quesnel and Dawson Creek.
The studies focused on eight low clearance overhead railway crossings and the Salmon River and Parsnip bridges.
Several businesses in Northeast B.C. are forced to haul oversized loads of equipment through Alberta due to Highway 97’s height and width constraints.
Bob Fedderly, of Fedderly Transportation in Fort St. John, says the propsed upgrades would benefit companies in the B.C. interior. Fedderly says those companies have been unable to competitively participate in the oil and gas industry in northeast B.C.
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Other loads that have been rerouted through Alberta include compressor station components, combines, manufactured homes, large dozers, drilling tanks, bridge components, and coal and ore trucks used in the mining industry.
Greg Hammond is the President of Greensmart Homes, which has offices in Dawson Creek and Fort St. John. He says if the existing low clearance overpasses are upgraded as recommended, his company would be able to bid competitively on large pre-manufactured structural building projects in the interior and northwest B.C.
Hammond says currently, the majority of Greensmart’s opportunities for large projects are located in northeast B.C. and Alberta.
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The estimated cost of the improvements is $135 million. But, the Northern Development Chair Evan Saugstad (and Mayor of Chetwynd) says that money could easily be recovered.
He says the investment would help businesses claw back work in the B.C. oil and gas and forest industries, currently being done by Alberta firms.
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The report is now in Minister Shirley Bond’s hands. The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure will review the proposal, and determine whether to go ahead with the upgrades.
For a copy of the Northern Development Initiative Trust Economic Assesment, click on the attachment below.