If you have been keeping up with the news from the District Office, you might remember the proposal to build a new access and egress from Highway 97 to the Rec Centre (right in; right out). As a project jointly funded by the District of Chetwynd, the Peace River Regional District, and the British Columbia Government, the coordination efforts have been significant and I appreciate the good will that exists among the various funding agencies. This project has been in the works for a couple of years and construction is set for next summer. At the same time, Highways will undertake to fix forever the annually occurring heaves and hollows adjacent to the Rec Centre in Highway 97.
On December 10, Regional Highways officials met with District administration to ensure that we are all singing from the same sheet on these projects – Christmas carol time and all that. Potentially, on this project we could be singing in harmony. No details available yet, but in plain English, the District and Highways agreed to work closely to ensure that both projects move ahead expeditiously and that cost savings may actually occur.
Other points of common interest discussed include the potential access from Nicholson Road to Highway 29 North (just past the Canfor log yard) and future development in the area of 97 and 29 South. Both these areas will be important in the long term with Nicholson Road access attracting more immediate interest.
We also raised questions on Highways’ potential response to a significant increase in truck traffic through town in the event that Site C receives approval. BC Hydro is projecting a loaded rock truck to pass through town every six minutes (with a returning empty every six minutes) if the rock is moved by road from the Pine Pass quarry. Your District Council has no jurisdiction over 97 and 29, as you know, but we can and do keep before the relevant authorities our concerns over the movement of vehicles on the traffic arteries passing through town.
Of course, the CN Rail-Highway 97 intersection did not escape discussion. Twenty-five or so years ago a highway overpass study was undertaken. Because of the on-going annoyance of waiting at the crossing and with hazards presented when fire, rescue, and ambulance vehicles are impeded, and with the potential for increased rail traffic to accommodate proposed industrial developments, the District has recently resurrected this study and authorized an update for which BC Hydro will pay half the cost.
We also expressed District appreciation for the crossing light recently activated at 97 and 46th Street NE. It is not always used by pedestrians, mostly school children, when they cross the highway. It could be a lifesaver. Drivers want to see you and know your intentions and we certainly don’t need an incident of the type that has plagued lower mainland communities in the last few weeks. Press that button and wait for the light before you cross.
Merlin Nichols, Mayor