History of new Highways on Central Vancouver Island

This page is all about the reports, past and present that have been done investigating the building of new highways on Vancouver Island.

There have been many of them, particularly in the Alberni Valley as people yearn for better connections up and down the Island that would avoid the difficulties of Highway 4 between Port Alberni and Parksville.

April 2016 – We await another MoT Business Case/Report

The Ministry of Transportation is continuing to investigate a full Multiple Account Evaluation of the Horne Lake route compared to upgrades to the existing Highway 4.  That report is due out before summer.

August 2013 – Six Reports later – A Positive for the Highway

Alberni Connector Business Plan and Cost/Benefit Analysis. . There are some serious problems with some of the assumptions and conclusions made. I address those in this post. The Arguments for Alberni Connector apply more to Alberni Railway.
Conclusion:

Cost is in the order of $50 million and
the project returns a B/C Ratio = 1.4.

The analysis assumes 10% of the traffic on Highway 4 is from North Island, all of which would use the connector. A further 10% of South Island traffic is also assumed to use the connector in spite of the further travel distance because of potential delays encountered in peak summer periods on Highway 4. In addition, 150 trucks/day (75 round trips) are assumed to use the connector in conjunction with potential resource traffic. The total connector traffic is estimated to be 1,600 vehicles/day. With the reduced travel distance, the connector returns large benefits in time, vehicle operating cost savings and saving 2 to 3 collisions per year. There is also an estimated $2.3 million benefit from providing an alternate route during delays caused by highway closures.

There is a broader economic argument supporting the connector which serves as a catalyst for resource exports by way of Port Alberni, promoting economic development in the Alberni-Clayoquot region and Canadian exports as a whole.

Greenhouse gas savings related to the connector are an estimated 2,790 tonnes/year.

Check out the post here: The Arguments for Alberni Connector apply more to Alberni Railway.

February 2013
On February 27th, Alberni Clayoquot Regional District made public a new report on a “Ring Road” around the East side of Port Alberni linking Highway 4 to a south access road that would give direct access to the Port for trucking.

Here is the “Alberni Clayoquot Regional District Ring Road Connector – Highway 4 to Franklin River Road Route Study – Conceptual Design and Cost Estimate

Proposed cost – $17-$27 Million

Major concerns sited included grade and speed (8%-10% at 60kph) and environmental and cost concerns due to multiple river crossings and very close proximity to City of Port Alberni reservoir at Bainbridge Lake.

 

October 2012
Port Alberni Port Authority/Binnie Reports: The Port Authority commissioned “twin” reports on routes for the Horne Lake connector from Coombs Country Candy to Highway 19. The first goes around the North side of Horne Lake. The 2nd uses a new “coupler” route to go around the West and South sides of Horne Lake.

Coombs Country Candy to Horne Lake North Route 2012

Coombs Country Candy to Horne Lake – Lacey Lake Coupler Study 2012

Conclusion (None – No Cost-Benefit produced – only “viability” of routes studied)

[North Route] This Study shows that there is a route along the north shore of Horne Lake connecting with Coombs Country Candy at Highway 4 that meets an 80km/hr design speed. More detailed work would need to be done to develop this concept into a viable design such as but not limited to survey, public consultation, design, environmental review, and liaison with all stakeholders.

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[Coupler Route] This study shows that there is a route joining the Haggard Connector to Lacey Lake that connects with Coombs Country Candy at Highway 4 and meets an 80km/hr design speed. More detailed work would need to be done to develop this concept into a viable design such as but not limited to survey, public consultation, design, environmental review, and liaison with all stakeholders. We would also further refine the alignment and profile and determine the need for concrete roadside barriers and confirm pavement structure and cut and fill slopes with a geotechnical engineer.

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July 2012 Ministry of Transport Horne Lake Study

Conclusion (Negative – on improved 2007 study with truck climbing lanes):

The analysis indicates the enhanced Horne Lake Connector would likely divert approximately 43% of existing Highway 4 traffic to the new route. However, the cost to construct and maintain the roadway significantly exceeeds the travel time benefits that would be derived from the new route.

The analysis supports the continued use of Highway 4 as a safe and reliable corridor between Port Alberni and Highway 19, which will be capable of supporting general and commercial traffic growth that could arise from economic development activities in the region.

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2007 ACRD/Binnie Report (Cover Page, Maps and Profiles, Multiple Account Analysis Appendix)

Conclusion (None – No real-world analysis – this now done by BC MOT 2012 above.):

This study shows that there is a viable route with a very positive cost benefit of 2.1 if 70% of the northbound Highway 19 traffic uses the new route and 1.5 if only 50% of the traffic uses the route.

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2005 BCMoT/NDLea Report

Conclusion (Negative):

It was found that the economic benefits from the expected travel time savings yield a benefit-cost ratio of less than one. Unless it can be demonstrated that the connector will attract a significantly greater volume of traffic from the existing highway infrastructure, it is recommended that the Ministry of Transportation does not pursue this project.

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2004 Update to 1990s Studies on Valley Links
C1: Port Alberni to Comox Valley via Beaver Creek/Comox Lake West side
C2: Port Alberni to Comox Valley via Beaver Creek/Comox Lake East side
C3/C4: Port Alberni to Highway 19 via Horne Lake (similar to 2007 NDLea)
C5: Highway 4 to Highway 19 via north side of Cathedral Grove

Conclusion (Negative):

On the benefit /cost account (Exhibit 6), C2 is the clear winner with a ratio of 1.76. C4 is the clear loser with a ratio of 0.57 and C5 just managing to justify itself with a ratio of 1.0. With the improvements to Highway 19 since the original report, C4 and C5 will likely have improved benefits as their travel times improve even more. In addition, C5 is the most economical at $13million agency cost compared to $32million for C2 and $45million for C3. C5 is cautiously recommended for further evaluation in the next section

(In the Valley Link Report, the most positive assessment was for a road linking Port Alberni and Lake Cowichan… the only road built to date from the Valley Link report was the recommendation for a link between Port Renfrew and Lake Cowichan.)

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