Road closures to accommodate Hydro project begin

Road closures related to the John Hart Project are getting underway

To accommodate regular BC Hydro maintenance work as well as the next stage of construction on the John Hart Generating Station Replacement Project, the road across the John Hart Dam will be closed during the day at various times in March, and fully closed day and night for up to three years starting around April 1.

The City of Campbell River will also be starting construction work for a new watermain that requires traffic control along Highway 28 starting in March.

Work on the John Hart project has largely focused on the construction area near the three John Hart surge towers and away from public road interactions.

This road closure marks the beginning of the next stage of project work.

“A new temporary construction bridge will be installed by the end of March to provide access to heavy equipment traffic so work can begin at the concrete spillway section of the John Hart dam,” says BC Hydro’s Stephen Watson. “The existing Brewster Lake Road Bridge has a low weight bearing rating given its poor condition. It’s been a significant risk to BC Hydro’s power generation and the city’s domestic water supply should a fully loaded logging truck, for example, try an unauthorised pass across the bridge and fall through. It will be nice to have that risk removed.”

BC Hydro says the old bridge will eventually be decommissioned and an earthfill berm will become the future vehicle roadway once the project is complete.

The city-owned bridge is being replaced at BC Hydro’s cost as project mitigation.

“This next phase of the John Hart project work includes the construction of a coffer dam around where the new water intake through the dam will be located, and passing the intake through the dam,” says Watson.“There will then be construction of the downstream water control works and the underground tunnel to connect to the new underground generating station,” says Watson.

“There is no change in the John Hart reservoir water level as a result of this work. A coffer dam will nicely isolate the work area within a small section just upstream of the dam so they can pump out that water and do the work in the dry. Our contractor, InPower BC, has also developed rigorous environmental management plans and monitoring to protect water quality in the reservoir for fish and the source of water for the City of Campbell River’s domestic water supply.”

Before that work begins, BC Hydro needs to provide annual maintenance to the three spillway gates located at the dam.

From March 10 to March 26, from Monday to Friday, the road will be closed from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

During these road closures, the existing road access to Elk Falls will remain open.

As of April 1, Brewster Lake Road will be closed entirely for up to three years.

Access to Elk Falls will be available through the new parking lot and trail system accessed just off Highway 28.

For access to areas such as Snowden Trails, Loveland Bay and residences beyond the dam, drivers will follow a detour route headed north on Highway 19, and turning onto Gordon Road.

“We recognize this road closure across the John Hart Dam is an inconvenience for some people and we apologize for that,” says Watson. “We have worked hard to communicate the up-to-three year road closure to the community so people that may be affected are prepared. The closure date is now upon us.”

Beginning in mid-March, the City of Campbell River will start the first of three phases to construct a new watermain and water intake into the John Hart reservoir for domestic water supply.

The first phase of work is along Highway 28 and is scheduled to be under construction through August 2015.

Traffic westbound along the highway will be reduced from two lanes to one lane for the duration of this project with intermittent closures to the second lane to facilitate construction activities.

The city advises two way traffic will be maintained on Highway 28.