Province in no hurry to four-lane highway

Premier Christy Clark promises a wide range of improvements to the Trans-Canada Highway.

Pardon if we don’t hold our breath.

At the 2012 Union of BC Municipalities convention, Premier Christy Clark promised a wide range of improvements to the Trans-Canada Highway.

The premier announced a total of $650-million over 10 years to continue four-lane improvements between Kamloops and the Alberta border. In addition to the $141 million from the government’s current three-year service plan, Clark said, it is allocating another $509 million over the next 10 years, for a total of $650 million.

It’s a politically safe promise for a premier who is lagging in the polls and may not make it past next May, let alone the 10 years she’s suggested.

As anyone who’s been around even the fringes of political decision-making will know, a new government could, with the stroke of a pen, reallocate those funds elsewhere. As well, the 10-year timeline makes it very difficult for anyone to hold anyone to account when the deadline comes due and the Trans-Canada Highway is still a patchwork of asphalt.

A real tip-off that this announcement rings somewhat hollow comes not from the mouth of the premier, but one of her underlings, Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Mary Polak who said, “We’ll be working with our federal government to seek matching funds to improve this corridor, which connects our Pacific Gateway with the rest of Canada.”

Another translation of this would be, “the feds have not jumped on board, but golly, we sure hope they do.”

A project of this magnitude would require a significant infusion of federal dollars because for all the province’s million-dollar commitment, this project will be in the billions.

 

This is not to say that there have not or will not be upgrades to the Trans-Canada Highway in the next 10 years. There have been major projects, most notably the massive bridge work near Golden, and other smaller projects, like the replacements of two bridges at Malakwa, are planned, although those two smaller-scale projects will likely not see completion until at least 2014.