The provincial transportation ministry has found a new location for its Hwy16/37 weigh scales which need to be moved to make way for a roundabout which will replace the four-way stop there later this year.
It’ll be moved further east along Hwy16 in Thornhill to property already owned by the provincial government.
That location, somewhere on the Thornhill Frontage Road between Crescent Street and Kirkaldy Street, is the second site chosen by the ministry because a first favoured location is part of a planned land transfer from the province to the Kitselas First Nation tied to a LNG benefits agreement signed between the two parties.
“The preliminary engineering phase includes investigative activities such as geotechnical and environmental assessments that will affect timeline and budget, therefore, we are unable to confirm the exact location, construction timeline or budget yet,” indicated the ministry in a statement.
Ministry officials confirmed the second location in a December 2018 letter to the Kitselas First Nation and to the Kitimat-Stikine regional district.
“We are pleased to advise that an alternative site has been successfully identified,” wrote Kevin Richter, an assistant deputy minister with the transportation and infrastructure ministry.
Weigh scales are so named because trucks are weighed to ensure they fall within legal limits. Inspections also take place at the locations.
A construction start date for the roundabout construction has yet to be set but preliminary work to clear a swath of trees just between the four-way stop and the old Skeena Bridge took place last year.
“We are anticipating the project to be tendered in early spring, with construction completion this fall,” indicated a statement provided by the transportation ministry.
The roundabout is being billed as an improved method to handle traffic converging at the location where the two highways meet. Instead of stop signs or signal lights, there’s a continuous flow of vehicles entering a traffic circle and then out again.
According to the transportation ministry, roundabouts claim 90 per cent fewer lives than conventional intersections, and 76 per cent fewer vehicle-related injuries by reducing head-on or T-bone collisions.
This will be the first highway roundabout in the northwest and its $4 million price tag will be partially covered by $1.7 million from the federal government.
Ministry engineers originally came up with a design involving traffic signals but later abandoned that in favour of a roundabout.
The lower Thornhill provincial crown lands which will be transferred to the Kitselas First Nation are part of a LNG benefits deal between it and the province triggered by LNG Canada’s Kitimat natural gas liquefaction plant construction announcement last October.
The 62 hectares is a mostly forested section bounded by Paquette to the south, Century St. to the west, the Pacific Northern Gas pipeline to the east and north to behind the old Lomak depot location.
There had been local developer interest in the land until a hold was put on it pending negotiations between the Kitselas and the province.
Initial indications are that the Kitselas will be looking at both residential and commercial development opportunities.
The Kitselas are also eligible to take ownership of 1,140 hectares in the Dubose area between Terrace and Kitimat as part of that same agreement.
A first parcel of 25 hectares adjacent to the Northwest Regional Airport became available in March 2017 when the benefits deal was signed.