The Cariboo Connector Program is extremely important for industry in Northern British Columbia and families who rely on Highway 97 for their livelihoods.
Four-laning Highway 97 between Cache Creek and Prince George supports economic growth not only in the North, but throughout the entire province. The oil and gas industry is growing, the Port of Prince Rupert is booming and we’re building a liquefied natural gas industry.
The improvements we’re making to the Cariboo Connector will significantly improve the flow of goods and services between the Lower Mainland and the Southern Interior, and the central areas of the province.
In 2007, we announced the Cariboo Connector Program to four lane Highway 97 between Cache Creek and Prince George. The first phase involved an investment of $240 million over five years.
With the completion of Phase 1 in 2012, 18 projects were successfully delivered, adding more than 40 kilometres of new four-lane highway. This more than doubled the previous 40 km of four-laning on the highway between Prince George and Cache Creek, reducing travel times and increasing safety for the users of this corridor.
A number of key strategic projects in Phase 1 included twinning the Simon Fraser Bridge, and the installation of a state-of-the-art Red Rock Commercial Vehicle Inspection Station, equipped with Weigh2Go and transponder technologies.
In 2012, we made a commitment for an additional $200 million over five years to deliver nine projects, which will add an additional 30 km of new four-lane sections to Highway 97. We are on track to completing them on time and on budget.
A number of these projects are already complete or underway, including:
• Four-laning Old Cariboo Highway to Sintich Road south of Prince George.
• Four-laning three sections south of 100 Mile House, including: 70 Mile North, starting north of Willow Road; Stormy Road, tying together the previously-constructed Stormy Road North and Bullock Lake Road projects, and 76 Mile South, tying together the Stormy and 70 Mile North sections.
• Improvements at the Bonaparte intersection north of Cache Creek Intersection.
Over the next three years, construction will start on the following projects:
• Four-laning between the Stone Creek Bridge and Williams Road including replacement or realignment at the CN Rail Overhead, south of Prince George.
• Four-laning between Quartz Road and Dragon Lake, south of Quesnel.
• Four-laning between Carson Drive and Fox Mountain Road in Williams Lake.
• Four-laning between the South Boundary of the Williams Lake Indian Reserve and Lexington Road.
When completed, almost half of the 440-km highway between Cache Creek and Prince George will be either three or four lanes wide.
The government of B.C. recognizes the importance and significance of the Cariboo Connector to Northern B.C. We will continue to assess this corridor, along with our other major highway corridors, to ensure that we’re keeping our commitment to provide a safe and reliable transportation system throughout the province.
Todd Stone is the minister of Transportation and Infrastructure.