ACRD Continues study of Highway Alternatives for Raven Coal and Port Traffic

On February 27th the Alberni Clayoquot Regional District tabled a new report (the 4th route study since 2012) detailing an eastern ‘ring road’ connecting Highway 4 at the entrance to Port Alberni to a road that enters Port Alberni to the south more directly towards the Port Authority and industrial areas on the waterfront.

These routes are meant to keep truck traffic, mainly from Raven Coal if that project is approved, off City of Port Alberni streets as much as possible.

According to the report:

R.  F.  Binnie  and  Associates  Ltd.  were asked  to  do  a  route  study  and conceptual  design  for  a  road connecting  Highway  4  to  Franklin  River  Road.

Some work on this route was already done by Island Timberlands in conjunction with the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District (ACRD) and the City of Port Alberni and several options were roughed in….

This study looked at the options presented, determined their feasibility, and developed projects cost estimates for the routes that were deemed feasible by Binnie.

The Report produced 3 estimates costing $17 Million, $20 Million and $27 Million.

Here are the routes:

 

Shows proposed routes from Highway 4 to two points on Franklin River Road.
Shows proposed routes from Highway 4 to two points on Franklin River Road.  Also shown, major creeks, and City of Port Alberni Bainbridge Lake Reservoir.



As can be seen, these routes would rely on existing logging roads much like the Horne Lake Connector routes but still require significant construction.  In particular this route requires building 2 large bridges over local creeks which would require “a detailed environmental investigation”.  Also “the design has to take into account storm water management to ensure contaminated water does not enter any stream that enters the reservoir” at Bainbridge Lake.

By contrast, the Island Railway already exists.  Upgrading and repairing the mainline and Alberni subdivision requires no environmental impact assessments.  Also note this ring road only removes truck traffic from City of Port Alberni streets.  Since the trucks would turn off Highway 4 near Coombs Country Candy, if this road was completed without the Horne Lake Connector, then there would be nothing done for the increase of traffic on Highway 4 through Cameron Lake, Cathedral Grove and over the Hump.  That means the safety issues remain.

But what this new study provides most of all is a full cost of the whole highway plan.

Highway Plans
Horne Lake Connector “Coupler” Route: $65 Million
Ring Road Route: $17-27Million
Total cost: $82-$92 Million for 33-35km of new highway

Island Railway Plans
Full Victoria to Courtenay to Alberni repair:  $100 Million for 300km
or
Just for Raven Coal (Buckley Bay to Alberni): $40 Million

With a $40 Million investment by Government over the proposed 16 year lifespan of the Raven coal mine if it produces at its potential , the investment would be payed back in full.

The ring road, like other road projects, will rely on gas taxes to recoup costs… though in reality, non-toll highways are never fully payed back.
Railway projects are unique in this ability to be payed off so quickly and directly.  Highway projects do not have this ability.

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This Highway would also help open up Port Alberni Port Authority to more Asia Pacific Gateway traffic.  So too, would a rehabilitated Railway corridor.

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