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Road closures begin this month for John Hart project

Intermittent road closures begin this month on Brewster Lake Road as part of BC Hydro’s John Hart Generating Station replacement project
Crews prepare for a rock blast at the south portal of the John Hart Generating Station replacement project.

Intermittent road closures will begin this month on Brewster Lake Road as part of BC Hydro’s John Hart Generating Station replacement project.

Stephen Watson, spokesperson for BC Hydro, said road closures of up to 15 minutes will occur between January and March as site preparation begins, including tree falling.

That will make way for a long-term closure of the road.

“In April, the planned three-year closure is expected to begin in full to accommodate the construction work relating to the underground generating station,” said Watson who noted that nearby trail closures will also remain in effect.

“Short, intermittent closures on Millennium Trail will continue until surface blasting is completed. Closures will be up to 15 minutes, and trail users will be advised by flaggers stationed in the area.”

Surface blasting is expected to be completed at the south portal – one of two entrances being created upstream of the existing surge towers to accommodate a single, underground tunnel –   by mid-January at which time drilling and underground blasting is scheduled to begin.

Tunneling and underground cavern excavation is expected to be underway until April.

Watson said the shift to underground blasting will mean a slight drop-off in the volume of hauling trucks going to and from the project site.

“Truck traffic from the site will slow slightly as the project transitions from moving overburden soils from the two portals, to removing rock resulting from blasting,” Watson said.

“Due to the drop-off locations, most of the truck traffic in the new year will be contained to Highway 28 (Gold River Highway), between the construction site access on Surge Tower Road and a location nearby to the west. This contains noticeable traffic significantly.”

Watson added that a small amount of truck traffic will also travel southbound on Highway 19, using the intersection at Highway 19A and Highway 28.

Meanwhile, the John Hart project team has settled into its new headquarters at the former Campbellton school.

Workers park at the site and are bussed to the construction site, which has limited space for parking, and reduces the volume of traffic using Highway 28, Watson said.

The $1 billion project, which will relocate the John Hart Generating Station underground and replace the three existing penstocks with an underground tunnel, is expected to be complete in 2018.


Quick facts


  • There are roughly 93 people working at the project site, with 74 of those workers local to the Campbell River area, which is between 75 and 80 per cent of the work force.

  • Water run-off at the site is now fully contained, following adjustments to drains at site entrances.

  • The water treatment facility has been moved to the north and is treating collected water from the site. Testing shows that water being released is meeting and exceeding environmental standards.

  • Approximately eight frogs were rescued and relocated from the project site in December.

  • The new city council toured the John Hart hydroelectric facilities in early December and was shown around the project site.