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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The Fort St. John Chamber of Commerce held another Speaker Series Luncheon on Thursday at the Pomeroy Hotel & Conference Centre.

The topic of this Luncheon was Roads and Infrastructure with guest speaker Scott Maxwell of the Ministry of Transportation.

Maxwell says the Ministry’s focus is to ensure maintaining a safe, mobile highway for all users in a reliable manner.

“Our focus is entirely on a safe, mobile highway that allows people to reliably move to and from their homes to get goods and services.”

According to Maxwell, for the past 20 years, the Ministry has invested over $1.25 billion in maintenance for highways and side roads within the Region, saying that it was necessary to invest that money as the roads suffered greatly from disrepair.

“Since 1999 we’ve spent over one-and-a-quarter of a billion dollars on highways and side roads within the Peace. For those that have been around for that long, you know that it was a necessary investment. The infrastructure deficit in the Peace was extreme in the late 90s.”

One specific current issue that came to mind, and one that has been greatly talked about lately, is the Taylor Bridge and South Taylor Hill.

Last week, while at the Provincial Chamber Annual General Meeting, the Chamber of Commerce had passed a resolution that looks at improving roads within the Region, specifically the Taylor Hill and Bridge.

Maxwell says the Taylor Bridge is one of the most challenging pieces of infrastructure that the Ministry currently deals with due to its location and the way the Bridge is constructed.

According to Maxwell, there are three options that the Ministry is considering when it comes to dealing with the Bridge. One option would be to invest about $80 to $100 million in resurfacing the deck. The next option would be to replace it with a new two-lane bridge, and the third option would be to replace it with a four-lane bridge. Maxwell says a two-lane bridge would cost about $250 million, with a four-lane costing $400 million.

Maxwell also says the Ministry is working with local contractors when it comes to maintaining the paint lines on the Hills.

Maxwell assures that the Ministry will continue to work closely with contractors and communities to ensure that travel issues are resolved.

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