PRINCE GEORGE - The project to increase the commercial clearances between Prince George and Chetwynd along Highway 97 is benefiting B.C.'s economy.
In 2011, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure increased the clearance below the West Pine CN Rail overpass by 30 centimetres, bringing the clearance height of the Highway 97 corridor to over five metres.
The new clearance height has opened up new markets to businesses in the Prince George area by allowing industry to move large machinery, trailers and resources in and out of the Peace to supply the growing oil and gas industry, creating the jobs that support Northern B.C. families. Previously, companies in the Peace could source large items only from Alberta. Now they can get those same products in B.C.
Since the project was completed, the ministry's Commercial Vehicle Safety Enforcement branch has been tracking the number of oversized load permits on the corridor and found an increase of 210 per cent - from 41 permits issued in 2010-11 to 127 permits in 2011-12 - clearly indicating the demand for this route by the trucking industry.
This improvement was a result of feedback from the local trucking industry and an economic assessment conducted in partnership with the Northern Development Initiative Trust.
Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Mary Polak -
"B.C.'s oil and gas industry is growing, so it's important that we continue to improve and maintain our highway network to accommodate the increase in industrial traffic, and provide safe and reliable highways and roads for all travellers."
"Since increasing the clearance at the West Pine overhead on Highway 97, we've seen a dramatic jump in the number of truckers using this route."
Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour Pat Bell -
"The Northern Development Initiative Trust's economic assessment was instrumental in providing the impetus for these infrastructure improvements. This is a fantastic example of what can be accomplished when government and industry work together to grow the economy."
MLA for Prince George-Valemount Shirley Bond -
"This work was done in response to a need identified by both the trucking industry and the Northern Development Initiative Trust. Investments in transportation infrastructure are critical as we encourage investment in our resource sector. The increased traffic numbers clearly indicate that this project is already making a difference."
President & CEO, BC Trucking Association Louise Yako -
"The BC Trucking Association applauds the recent work by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to increase the clearance through the West Pine rail overhead. This has had a significant, positive impact on the ability of trucking companies that transport large equipment and other oversize cargo to service the oil and gas industry.
Executive director of the Manufactured Housing Association of B.C. Gord Rattray -
"On behalf of the MHABC membership, we are extremely pleased with the upgrades to the West Pine section of Highway 97 and are looking forward to completion of the next phase of upgrading to the eastern sections. The upgrades have allowed more efficient movement of wider loads into northeastern B.C. from the southern areas of the province, where the majority of manufactured homes are constructed."
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