Commuters and business owners frustrated by restricted access to the 152 Street overpass at Highway 99 – the result of damage caused Dec. 4 when an overheight vehicle struck the structure – will have to wait at least two more months for relief.
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure announced Tuesday morning that repairs to the thoroughfare are to get underway in February, “and the repair work is anticipated to finish in April.”
“Work will involve removing and replacing the damaged girders, and demolishing and reconstructing the deck over the damaged area,” a news release states.
“The ministry thanks motorists for their continued patience while these extensive repairs are completed.”
A truck hauling overheight car-crushing equipment struck the overpass at around 10:30 a.m. Dec. 4. Since midnight the following day – after work to stabilize the overpass – traffic has been restricted to one southbound lane over the overpass, and one northbound lane on Highway 99.
The ministry expects the southbound lane to remain open during construction, however, nighttime Highway 99 traffic will at times be affected.
Ministry officials promised on Dec. 7 to have an update on the repair plans in early January.
In mid-December, area business owners told Peace Arch News that restricted access in the area – to South Point Annex, in particular – was hurting business, with drops of 30 to 50 per cent seen.
Readers’ reacting to Tuesday’s announcement questioned why the overpass isn’t being replaced with one better-equipped to handle the area’s traffic.
“The overpass is inadequate. Stop repairing it and replace it with four lanes!!!” writes Linda Winterford Fisher.
Hal Gross agrees.
“Why spend money on the repairs when it should go to replacing the bridge with a four lane one???”
Ministry officials were unable to respond to questions – regarding timeline, cost and impact to traffic movement during repairs – by PAN press time Tuesday morning.
The news release did, however, note the upcoming replacement of the nearby Bailey bridge – on King George Boulevard south of Highway 99 – would be done after the overpass repairs are complete, “to keep traffic flowing and minimize delays.”
Initially, that work had been planned to get underway in mid-October. The ministry said in November that environmental approval from the province had stalled that plan.
Tuesday’s news release states the one-lane bridge is to be replaced by a steel structure, and that the adjacent two-lane bridge will remain open during construction, which is tentatively scheduled for May to June.
Motorists are advised to check www.DriveBC.ca for traffic-flow updates during construction.