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Highway 101 bypass study coming

Highway 101 bypass study coming

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MoTI) is in the early stages of organizing a study on bypass options for Highway 101. Elena Farmer, district manager, made that announcement as part of a MoTI delegation at Sechelt’s Committee of the Whole meeting on Feb. 24.
Farmer was not able to provide many details, as project terms of reference have not yet been determined. She did note that a project manager has been selected and that the work is intended to be a “full bypass study with possibly staged elements.”
In a follow-up to the meeting, the Local learned that the ministry has retained a consultant with expertise in traffic engineering and public engagement and that the upcoming study of an alternative route or bypass will be restricted to Gibsons and Sechelt. Currently, Highway 101 passes through both Gibsons and Sechelt, where it travels through eleven signalized intersections.
A work plan for the study is under review, and the ministry is in the budgeting process for the coming fiscal year. The budget for the study will be made public as more information becomes available. Public engagement will also get underway this year, with an expected completion of the study in spring
Much of MoTI’s meeting presentation focused on the Highway 101 Corridor Study that was completed last August. That review looked at how the highway is serving existing and projected future demands. It analyzed ‘pinch points’ on the route where the flow of those travelling gets slowed down and sections where there are safety concerns. It proposes ways to address those with adjustments to the existing infrastructure. The need to take actions to improve the highway are classified as short-, medium- or long-term projects in the study. Work on short-term priorities is recommended to begin within five years, and long-term projects could be 35 years away. Bypass or re-routing options to deal with those situations were not part of the corridor study.
Responding to the news about the upcoming project, Sunshine Coast Highway Society spokesperson Robin Merriott said, “We welcome the news that MoTI is preparing to undertake a highway ‘bypass study,’ but what is needed are concrete plans about how a real highway can be built and funded. The one clear conclusion from MoTI’s August 2020 Corridor Study is that it is impossible to upgrade the current ‘Goat Trail’ to meet the growing demands of our community. It is time to focus on a solution that will meet the needs of our community for the long-term. An innovative state-of-the-art highway would follow the BC Hydro right-of-way, which is a plan that has been on the books since 1986. We encourage the Minister to direct his team to take action on this now. The Sunshine Coast Highway Society and many others in our community stand ready to help.”
Connie Jordison

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