Users of the new Millennium Trail should expect trail closures over the next three months due to blasting, according to BC Hydro.
Starting today, the trail will be closed periodically for up to 15 minute increments to ensure the public’s safety when surface blasting is underway.
Stephen Watson, spokesperson for BC Hydro, said there may be up to two blasts each day.
“The surface and initial tunnel entrance blasting is anticipated to go to February 2015, with the intermittent trail closures happening throughout that period,” Watson said. “After that, it will all be underground.”
BC Hydro’s $1 billion John Hart project involves re-constructing the generating station, and moving a new powerhouse underground. A single underground tunnel will replace the three existing, above ground penstocks that cary the city’s drinking water.
But before that can happen, construction crews need to blast above and below ground to accommodate the new infrastructure.
Watson said there is no danger to public.
“The blasting and controlled drilling is highly controlled to limit ground vibrations,” Watson said. “All blasts on the surface will be matted or covered to reduce the risk of fly rock from the work.”
Currently, construction crews have been focusing on the two underground portals just upstream of the three surge towers, but work is expected to start near the John Hart dam area early next year.
It’s expected that the Brewster Lake Bridge, which crosses over the three penstocks next to the dam, will be closed to traffic as of January.
Watson said the bridge, which has weight restrictions, will eventually be taken out of service.
In the meantime, a temporary steel or bailey bridge will be constructed just downstream of the existing bridge to handle construction traffic.
Before the five-year project wraps up, Watson said an earthfill berm will be built near the existing Brewster Lake Bridge and that will mark the future location of the Brewster Lake Road, which will be partially closed through a large portion of the project.
“The Brewster Lake Road near the John Hart dam area will be closed for up to three years starting as early as January,” Watson said. “The public road detour is Highway 28 to Highway 19 and around via the Duncan Bay and Gordon Road area, or vice versa.”
During the road closure, the original access to Elk Falls will be closed off and access will be through the new road, parking lot and trail system that begins near the intersection of Highway 28 and Brewster Lake Road.
Watson said the parking lot and trail works, which were created about one year ago, will be turned over to BC Parks as a project legacy.