The road leading to the base of Whistler and Blackcomb mountains should start looking more familiar by the end of summer.
On Monday, Ron Sander, manager of environmental operations for the Resort Municipality of Whistler, confirmed the municipality's plans to reinstall the landscaped median in Blackcomb Way are moving full steam ahead. The designs are in the final stage of review and construction crews should wrap the project up in the next month or two.
"We are hopefully getting down to the near finish of the design this week, and if everything works to plan, I hope we can have it in place by mid-summer," said Sander.
The municipality removed Blackcomb Way's median last fall as part of the traffic measures instituted for the Olympic Games. The concrete, asphalt and landscaping were removed and the road was re-paved in a $150,000 remodeling project.
This week, Sander said even though the budget for the re-installation project isn't finalized yet, the numbers should be significantly less this time around.
"We will try and be as frugal as we can using our own forces and expertise, but it is pretty tough to nail down a budget until we see what the folks have designed," he said.
He added that the project should not impact the municipality's budget, since the re-installation of the median is covered under an agreement reached with the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) prior to the Games.
"My expectation is that any work we do - that were agreed to with VANOC - will be funded through the agreements in place and we wouldn't have to expend any extra funds," said Sander.
The new structure will be shorter than the last one on Blackcomb Way, said Sander, which will make it easier for cars and trucks to access MY Millennium Place and the Brewhouse. Also, with Celebration Plaza (recently renamed Whistler Olympic Plaza) expected to become a major focal point designers at municipal hall want to make sure there is a pedestrian crossing half way through the median.
Once the designs have been finalized, staff can start thinking about what type of vegetation and trees to plant in the median, he added.
"Ultimately we are hoping to create a feature in Whistler that is appreciated and enhances the beauty of Whistler," said Sander.
Meanwhile, the municipality also launched the second phase of construction on Celebration Plaza earlier this month.
The asphalt has been removed and infill materials are being stockpiled to transform the land into an outdoor gathering space by the summer of 2011. Once finished, the public plaza will include an open grass lawn and an expanded children's play area, along with an outdoor performance space big enough to hold 550 people seated or 1,000 people standing.
The construction work is funded by VANOC.