Public to get say on highway-widening plan

Kamloopsians are being asked to weigh in on the B.C. government's plan to widen the Trans-Canada Highway between the city and the Alberta border — but it's not clear when the project will be going ahead.

Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Mary Polak was in Kamloops on Thursday, Feb. 7, to announce several weeks of public-consultation sessions in Interior communities along Highway 1.

The first session will take place at Hotel 540, 540 Victoria St., on Tuesday, Feb. 12, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

At the Union of BC Municipalities Conference in September, Premier Christy Clark promised the highway would expand to four lanes and said her government would earmark $650 million over 10 years to complete the work.

Polak said the province is in talks with Ottawa about federal funding, though no commitments have yet been made.

The consultations run through February. Until they're completed, Polak said it's "impossible" to guess at when construction might begin.

"Part of what we want to understand in the consultation is if there are priority areas where we should begin first, ones with very high safety challenges or ones where the residents feel they should be a priority area," she said.

The project is expected to run over a number of years.

Asked whether the B.C. Liberals can deliver on the highway widening with a provincial election only a few months away, Polak said this isn't the first time the government has committed to a major road project just before voters go to the polls.

"The Port Mann-Highway 1 project was first talked about before the 2005  election. We continued on the timeline we had promised. We delivered on it," Polak said.

Kamloops Mayor Peter Milobar said the four-laning project will improve public safety for communities and motorists along the highway corridor and cut down on traffic accidents "that are really unnecessary in this day and age."


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