Campbell River city council approved a plan for a temporary road connection on Willow Creek Road to alleviate traffic congestion caused by ongoing sewer upgrades along Highway 19A.
The temporary road will be constructed on an undeveloped right-of-way located between Nebraska Drive and Twillingate Road. This will connect the disjointed north and south sections of Willow Creek Road, so residents can avoid painstaking traffic delays caused by the upgrades, set for completion in June.
The issue was brought to council by councillor Kermit Dahl, who said he has received numerous complaints from residents in the area facing extensive delays when returning to their neighbourhoods, from both the north and south.
“This problem wasn’t brought on by the people living on Twillingate, Country Aire, Dahl Road, or Wayne Road,” said Dahl. “This was brought on by city hall, and we should be doing what we can to make this as good as possible for the people who live there.”
Several other city councillors said they too have received complaints and experienced delays firsthand.
The plan is to build a temporary gravel road on the undeveloped road allowance that is less than 100 metres long.
There were discussions in September 2021 about using the right-of-way as a temporary route during construction, an option ultimately not supported by city council.
“We were told it was too expensive last year when we brought it up, but then we paid $700,000 in overages,” said Dahl. “I think we can find the money to put 95 metres of gravel road through.”
City council did not push for the road because there was no support for it by city staff, said Coun. Ron Kerr.
A previous cost estimate for a two-lane gravel roadway at the location, with a possibility of adding asphalt later, was $95,000, said Drew Hadfield, the city’s director of operations. But since then, costs have increased, so it might now take around $100,000, he said.
There might also be concern from residents that access to the road is removed once construction is complete, he added.
The construction of the temporary route will need to be completed by a contractor, and its completion is time dependent on contractor availability.
“We would encourage that to be done in a very timely fashion,” said Hadfield.
City staff will need to determine if the project can be awarded directly, or if it requires an RFP, a two- to three-week process.
The road will need to consider pedestrian safety, and its construction could disrupt traffic in the area, said city manager Deborah Sargent.
City council approved a budget for the project not to exceed $130,000, and passed a subsequent motion referring the decision of constructing a permanent road at the site to 2023 budget talks.