Blair Lekstrom, Peace River South MLA and Minister of Transportation of Infrastructure, was joined this morning by local government representatives to announce Highways 2 and 97 will be widened to accommodate four lanes.
"It is something we have all wanted for a very long time," said Lekstrom, adding it is as much about ensuring safe and convenient travel for the motoring public as it is to accommodate the growth of industry in the region.
The project will be built in several phases over the next several years, with the provincial government providing nearly $4 million to prepare the first seven initial projects. The minister said the phased approach mirrors the approach to twinning Highway 49 taken on the Alberta side.
"I think we have to do that," he said. "This is going to be a multi-year project, so the thought of starting in one area and seeing no development in another area didn't make a lot of sense to me."
Engineering work is underway on those initial projects, with construction expected to begin on some sections next year. Those projects include: widening Highway 2 to four lanes from Tupper Creek to Rusheinski Road; widening the Tupper Creek Bridge and 4-Mile Culvert to four lanes; improvements and a southbound passing lane at the intersection of Highway 2 and Blockline Road; widening from the Rolla Road to First Street, and from First Street to Eighth Street in Dawson Creek; constructing a northbound passing lane on Highway 97 at Farmington Fairways; and widening the bottom of the South Taylor Hill to four lanes.
There is currently no total budget or expected timeline for completion of the entire twinning project, but Lekstrom said it is estimated in the hundreds of millions of dollars to complete the project.
Peace River North MLA Pat Pimm echoed his colleagues' comments, adding that twinning the highways will be great for access into the North Peace region as well.
Dawson Creek Mayor Mike Bernier said the project is great news for the city and the entire Peace region.
"When you look at the amount of infrastructure needed to make transportation a little easier around here, this is a great announcement," said the mayor. "With the amount of traffic we have coming from Alberta into the region now, everybody who lives here can attest to the fact our roads are busier because of that activity."