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Overpasses part of Highway 99 improvements

Open houses to address changes to section from Brandywine to Function Junction

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Railway crossings at Function Junction and Brandywine Falls will be replaced with overpasses according to the proposed Highway 99 improvements.

Two public open houses will be held in the next few weeks to seek public input on the proposed highway improvements for the Brandywine to Function Junction section of the Sea to Sky Highway.

The first meeting will be held on Saturday, April 2 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Westin Resort and Spa. If you can’t attend that open house, another one will be held at Whistler Municipal Hall council chambers from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 7.

The purpose of these open house dates is to inform the community and stakeholders about the draft pre-design options for the highway improvements, to gather feedback on those options, and to summarize that input for the Ministry of Transportation. Once the Community Consultation phase is completed, the project will move to the design phase, the last step before the work begins.

The pre-design option calls for several changes:

• The project will widen the highway from two lanes with three and four-lane sections to a minimum of three lanes to allow more passing in both directions. Wider shoulders will also be included to improve safety, and allow for faster reopening of the highway after motor vehicle accidents. Wider lanes will also allow for safer cycling.

• The Brandywine to Callaghan Section will be shifted to the west and a new overpass will be built over the railway tracks, improving the grade, smoothing out the S-curve, and eliminating delays and conflicts with rail traffic. There will also be safer entry and exit lanes to access Brandywine Provincial Park and the Brew Main Forest Service Road. The Brandywine Creek Bridge will be widened to three lanes, and gateway signage will be added to announce arrival to Whistler.

• The Callaghan to Powerline Hill Section will have safer entry and exit lanes to the proposed Whistler Nordic Centre in the Callaghan Valley. A new twin, two-lane northbound bridge will be built at Callaghan Creek. The highway will be widened and straightened to the north of the Callaghan, and a viewpoint will be constructed a kilometre north of Callaghan Creek with parking for five to 10 vehicles.

• The Powerline Hill to Function Junction section will be widened and shifted to the east to straighten curves and reduce grades. A new channel will improve the flow of Millar Creek and another new overpass will be built over the rail lines to eliminate train delays. The gateway to the village will be rebuilt, along with a visual barrier to shield the sewage treatment plant from view. The road to the plant will close and another road will be built.

To the south of this section, residents of Black Tusk Village and Pine Crest will also see some drastic changes in their area.

The first option, Option A, would see new T-intersections for both communities, as well as turning lanes on the highway, and a three lane highway with straighter corners, and wider shoulders.

Option B would see a minor re-alignment, creating a new highway adjacent to the existing route. The existing highway at Black Tusk and Pinecrest and the MacDonald property would become a frontage road which accesses the new highway in both directions. This option is $1.2 million more than Option A.

Option C would see a major re-alignment, completely bypassing the communities by using a new route on the west side of Daisy Lake. This option is $300,000 cheaper than Option B, but would reduce the number of access points to the highway from four to two. There are also more environmental impacts to consider.

The community consultation for Pinecrest/Black Tusk is complete with most residents supporting Option B and C, but a final decision has yet to be made regarding the area.

More complete maps and plans for highway improvements are available at www.seatoskyimprovements.ca in the Consultation Section.

No highway closures or delays over 30 minutes are scheduled for the Sea to Sky Highway through to April 20, 2005, when spring construction gets underway. Regular closures are expected after that date, with the same provisions to keep the highway open during rush hour, weekends and holidays, and other high traffic periods.

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