Revelstoke highway intersection fix funding threatened

Ministry of Transportation threatens to withhold funding to fix Trans-Canada Highway intersection if it doesn’t approve design.

Revelstoke's approved plan for a highway design includes a roundabout at Victoria and Wright

The Ministry of Transportation is threatening to withhold funding to help fix Revelstoke’s Trans-Canada Highway intersection if it doesn’t approve the designs, the city’s chief administrator told council on Tuesday.

Allan Chabot, the chief administrative officer for the City of Revelstoke, told council that the city received an e-mail from the ministry that they were displeased they weren’t shown the altered design by McElhanney Consulting before it went to council at the end of April.

“They also expressed that unvetted and unapproved changes to fixing the problems in that area could risk funding from the ministry,” said Chabot.

The e-mail has not been made public and Chabot refused to share it with the Review.

McElhanney was contracted by the city to create a new design for the busy highway intersection. They presented an initial design to council and the public in March and a revised version in late-April. Council approved a modified version of that design after a special meeting on Tuesday, May 3.

The design would include a roundabout at Victoria Road and Wright Street, block left turns into the Tim Hortons/Shell and out of the Woodenhead Loop; and keep the Bend/Frontage Road loop.

The ministry has not committed any funding to the highway intersection project. McElhanney’s latest report estimated the cost at about $2.1 million, though a more refined cost will not be known until detailed design drawings are completed sometime in June.

The city has budgeted $1.2 million to do the work later this year. The funding is supposed to come from Development Cost Charges and it is not known where the rest of the money will come from if the cost exceeds the city’s budget. The Ministry of Transportation is expected to be one source, but their latest declaration had council worried.

“Do we have any idea of how much money we are talking about?,” asked councillor Aaron Orlando.

“I don’t think the ministry has even been clean on what we could or might expect,” replied Chabot. “I think it’s predicated on the impact on the highway intersection.”

“Should we clarify that with the ministry to make sure we’re not shooting ourselves in the foot in terms of funding?” asked coun. Connie Brothers.

Mayor Mark McKee said the city should keep going with its plan. “We have to get our own ducks in a row, get our own studies further along and then sit down with the ministry,” he said. “They’re not going to say they’ll pay X amount when they don’t know what we’re doing.”

Coun. Linda Nixon said staff needed to look for outside funding so the burden of fixing the intersection wasn’t place on the local taxpayers. “They didn’t cause these problems,” she said.

Coun. Scott Duke stressed the importance of acting sooner and not delaying any work.

“We can keep continuing to kick the can down the road, but this summer is going to be the biggest problem you’ve ever seen in this town because of the coaster. It is going to be a major problem,” he said. “I hope, knowing that’s coming, we can move forward and we can look at what the consultant said and take the action that needs to be taken to start resolving this problem because if we don’t we’ll be dealing with an absolute mess.”

McElhanney is expected to complete its detailed design by mid-June. Council will then decide if it wants to tender the project for construction of the roundabout this fall.