Access to the Elk Falls Suspension Bridge will closed off Jan. 24-27 so some trees can be cleared along the old penstock corridor.
And BC Hydro will be closing other roads and trails in the area as part of the preparation work for the John Hart Dam seismic upgrade.
There are two sites that have public interface and will require temporary closures, BC Hydro stakeholder engagement advisor Stephen Watson says. These include the parking lot to the trail heads of the Lower Deliverance pedestrian trail and the Alligator Rock bike trail to the north of the dam, and beside the pedestrian bridge that crosses the old penstock corridor that leads to the Elk Falls suspension bridge.
The old woodstave penstock corridor will be largely filled with materials from the reservoir and the site to allow for the upgrades planned for the earthfill sections of the dam. The placement of these materials within the penstock corridor may begin as early as this summer or early fall.
“We are preparing the penstock corridor for these materials by removing the trees along the edges of the corridor trench,” Watson says. “This includes the area beside the pedestrian bridge that crosses the penstock corridor on the way to the suspension bridge. Once all the materials are placed within the corridor it will be remediated and replanted with vegetation. The area will then better fit in with adjacent park setting.”
That means, rom Jan. 24-27, all the trails that lead to the Elk Falls suspension bridge, including the Millennium Trail, will be closed off for public safety for the tree-felling process.
The tree removals are on John Hart facility lands, and there’s close coordination on all the early works activities with BC Parks due to the adjacent Elk Falls Provincial Park. There are other works in this area over the following two weeks that will require intermittent and short duration trail closures for equipment movement and land activities. The Millennium Trail, given its proximity to the penstock corridor and the work zone, will be closed Jan. 30 to Feb. 3, and Feb. 6-10. Site signage will be updated as needed.
“We are picking this time of year for these specific tree removals as it’s outside of the bird nesting season and has lower public use of the trails,” Watson says.
Other ongoing tree removals will need to done to prepare the John Hart Dam facilities for the seismic upgrade work planned to begin this summer.
Starting on Jan. 18 through Feb. 7, the recreation parking lot to the north side of the dam will be barricaded and closed off. The approximate three-week closure is to allow for tree and stump removal, ground levelling for what will become the new laydown or staging area, a new gravel parking lot and information kiosk, and a new trailhead realignment for the pedestrian trail and bike trail.
With the trees beside the road, for public safety, the Brewster Lake Road by the John Hart Dam will be closed from Jan. 18 through 20. Over these three days, the exit from the Dean Martin Trail will also be blocked off with no access to the road. For the rest of the planned work, because there will be no access to Lower Deliverance or Alligator Rock, any trail users coming up Dean Martin will have to use the road. This laydown area, the only one possible to the north of the dam to help with project construction logistics, will be remediated and replanted with vegetation at the end of construction. Site signage advising of the closures will be in place.
BC Hydro’s early preparation work includes the creation of laydown construction areas, powerline relocations, and a new boat ramp that will be positioned outside of the planned double silt curtain that will be placed within the John Hart Reservoir to protect water quality during construction. The boat ramp is not public.
The John Hart Dam seismic upgrade project schedule remains on track for construction work to start on the dam in July 2023, following anticipated final internal approvals and the conclusion of the BC Utilities Commission process in spring 2023. During the six-year project construction period, the Brewster Lake Road across the dam will be closed.