NEWS

Sea-to-Sky Highway repairs should be done at night, residents say

04/21/2015 10:26 EDT | Updated 07/15/2015 04:59 EDT
West Vancouver residents who will be cut off from the Sea-to-Sky Highway as repairs are made to a retaining wall want the construction moved to the nighttime, but the Ministry of Transportation says that's not possible.

"That work would generate noise and it would be disruptive to local residents and the community. We're trying to do that work during the day because it makes the most sense to not disrupt people sleeping," said a ministry spokesperson.

The repairs come just five years after the B.C. government spent $600 million to widen and straighten large sections of the Sea-to-Sky Highway, known for its deadly vehicle crashes, in time for the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Ministry says wall is safe

The ministry insists the retaining wall in question is safe, but is in need of some remedial work. 

"The products that are placed in there have been tested. There's no safety or other issues with those, but they don't meet our long-term performance specifications and that's why we're replacing them."

At first, the ministry announced there would be no access to the residences of Pasco Road via vehicle, bike or pedestrian traffic for two four-hour periods every day, Monday through Friday.

After residents complained, the ministry relented and is now proposing the machinery could be moved off the road every two hours. 

But that doesn't go far enough, says one resident Giselle Portenier. 

"What we would like is night-time closures, which they do everywhere else in the world, to make sure impact on residents is minimized," she said. 

Opposition calls for safety audit

Transportation Minister Todd Stone says a retaining wall doesn't pose safety concerns despite questions by the Opposition about the new highway falling.

Stone says Transportation Ministry engineers assure him there are no safety issues along the stretch of road, which includes steep cliffs and a railway track just below the highway.

He says measures are being taken to ensure residents who live in the Pasco Road area of the highway will face minimum traffic delays while crews make sure the wall above the road is properly reinforced and stable.

Meanwhile, NDP transportation critic Claire Trevena is calling for an independent safety audit of all the highway's retaining walls.

Trevena says she has concerns that construction shortcuts may have been taken on the highway, because it was only built five years ago and it already requires structural repairs.

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