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Sea to Sky Highway project entering pre-design phase



Open house meetings planned to show options, address community and safety concerns

Local communities will get their first look at detailed options for the $600 million Sea to Sky Highway Improvement Project in the coming months as the Ministry of Transportation enters its pre-design phase. Improving highway safety is the main priority of the project, followed by reliability – keeping the highway open – and traffic issues.

Open house meetings have already been held in West Vancouver and Lions Bay as the province continues to gather feedback on different highway options from residents and stakeholders. The next major open house is expected to be held in Squamish once the different options and costs are formally laid out by the designers.

Over the past 18 months the project design team has held more than 350 meetings in the corridor with various stakeholders.

The pre-design phase will provide communities with their first detailed look at the project that goes beyond the original concepts presented.

"We’ve had meetings on the concepts, but we haven’t gotten to a higher level of detail yet (in Squamish) where people can see what the options are for access, or how different options might look on the ground," said Peter Milburn, the director of the Sea to Sky Highway Improvement Project.

"We will continue to have these meetings with other communities as well, like Black Tusk and Pinecrest and Whistler, and there are ongoing meetings planned with Britannia and Furry Creek."

At the Lions Bay open house on Feb. 28 the majority of participants favoured an option to build a $130 million four-lane section of highway that bypasses Horseshoe Bay. This option was slightly more expensive than an option to twin the exiting highway, but cheaper and more effective than a $170 million two-way tunnel option. There was also some discussion about creating a noise shed to shield homes from the sound of the highway, as well as different options for the Calvin Grove and Brunswick intersections.

"I would say it went very well, we had a lot of feedback," said Milburn.

"There wasn’t a consensus on all issues, but we did collect the feedback and will put the information in a consultation summary report – I believe that report has just been completed, and should be available soon."

Some of the requests made by Lions Bay residents, including the creation of a noise shed, have already been rejected because of the costs involved.

"We did some work with the technical liaison committee and costed out how much (the noise shed) would be, and that just wasn’t affordable so we didn’t table it as an option," said Milburn.