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Delays, closures for Highway 99 drivers



Funding finally granted for Culliton Creek to Cheakamus Canyon upgrades

Sea to Sky drivers travelling south of Whistler will have to plan their road trips in advance for the next year and a half or face highway delays of up to 30 minutes.

In just over three months the long-awaited road work is set to begin on the treacherous seven kilometre stretch of blacktop between Culliton Creek and the Cheakamus Canyon.

Although the construction will ultimately improve future driving conditions with the addition of a third lane for the uphill sections, there will be delays and closures while crews blast rock from the high walls that confine the narrow section of highway.

"The message is going to be that we’re doing everything humanly possible to impact as few people as possible," said Dan Mayberry, stakeholder liaison for the Sea to Sky project with the Ministry of Transportation.

Mayberry presented the construction schedule, which is designed to fit around the needs of the local community, at Monday’s council meeting.

Until the end of 2004 there will be three 20-minute stoppages on the road four days a week while crews blast rock. Drivers can expect the stoppages each after 9 a.m., noon and 3 p.m. The stoppages will only take place from Monday to Thursday.

"We want everybody to know that we recognize that if traffic is stopped for 20 minutes that could mean that the actual delay in your travel time is a half hour or greater by the time the queue gets going and from the congestion that results," said Mayberry.

"So we would ask people to allow extra travel time during those hours or, if they can, try to time it so that they can hit the project site in the off construction hours."

During the summer months, specifically June and July which have the longest daylight hours, there may be evening closures beginning at 8 p.m. and continuing throughout the night until 6 a.m. These closures could last up to four hours with two-hour breaks in between to allow shift workers to move back and forth.

"That’s when the crews can do their blasting in the evening and really get some production underway so (they can) make hay while the sun shines, literally," said Mayberry.

But taking into account the nature of a resort town like Whistler, there will be no delays or stoppages during the winter months. From December through February there will be a blackout period on rock blasting. In addition, all Canadian and American holidays throughout the year will not be impacted by delays.

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