The cost to repair the Hwy. 17A overpass has jumped by about $300,000, given the possibility of weather delays in construction.
Work was to have started earlier this month on fixing the southbound part of the overpass after it was badly damaged July 18 when an over-height truck smashed into it while driving southbound on Hwy. 99.
However, following an outcry from local businesses and politicians, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure delayed the project until January, so as not to interfere with the busy Christmas season.
According to the ministry, the department is now budgeting $1.7 million, instead of $1.4 million for the project.
And although the structure was built in 1959 and is now 64 years old, it won’t be retired.
The cost to replace the Hwy. 17A overpass entirely would be “significantly higher” said the ministry.
“No replacement or reconfiguration is planned, and the crossing recently underwent improvements (extending and widening the Hwy. 99 northbound off-ramp to the Hwy. 17A intersection) as part of the Highway 99 Tunnel Program,” the ministry said Thursday.
That overpass and the Hwy. 99 crossing at River Road has been a concern of Delta politicians since a River Road interchange was omitted when the $4.1-billion Fraser River Tunnel Project was announced.
However, the ministry said it’s “currently studying the feasibility of a River Road crossing over Hwy. 99.”
The ministry said it’s still talking to the federal government about funding for “this important project” as well as for “potential additional infrastructure that would benefit local communities.”
Coun. Dylan Kruger said the ministry has been studying, including the River Road interchange into the tunnel project, since September, but it all depends on federal funding with Ottawa saying it wants an environmental assessment.
“I’m very concerned about what will happen if it’s not included,” said Kruger.
He said the province has a request for proposals out for the tunnel project and if the overpass is not included, it won’t be part of the tunnel.
He expects the ministry will have a business case study for the River Road interchange by the end of the year, adding the province has said it could still include the interchange into the tunnel project.
But he said the ministry won’t be including it in the project unless there’s federal money.
“This is a strong ask, a strong push from us, from an advocacy perspective, to see this included,” Kruger said.
He said this summer’s closure of the Hwy. 17A overpass showed that residents were isolated from essential services and businesses were hurt, after the closure of the sole overpass across Hwy. 99 in the Ladner area.
He added that an interchange, accessed via River Road, has been in the Official Community Plan since the 1990s.