MINISTER OF TRANSPORTATION and Infrastructure Todd Stone

MINISTER OF TRANSPORTATION and Infrastructure Todd Stone

Comox Valley North Connector top Island priority for transportation minister

Transportation Minister Todd Stone says the proposed Comox Valley north connection to the Inland Island Highway will happen.

Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Todd Stone says the proposed project to replace the Dove Creek Bridge and strengthen the Comox Valley’s north connection to the Inland Island Highway will happen.

“The merits of this project are very, very strong, and it’s not a matter of ‘if’ it’s a matter of ‘when,’ ” Stone said Tuesday as he and local government leaders visited the one-way Dove Creek Bridge to talk about the proposed project.

Comox Valley delegates discussed the proposal for a larger bridge and clear north connection to the highway with Stone at September’s Union of B.C. Municipalities convention. Stone said Tuesday the fact that the four main Comox Valley municipalities support the proposed project caught his attention.

“There’s no question we have an immense number of (funding) requests all across the province and certainly here on Vancouver Island,” continued Stone. “But I will say that this particular project is unquestionably at the top of my list for Vancouver Island and it is because it ties very nicely with the hospital expansion taking place.”

Comox Valley Regional District Chair Edwin Grieve added Piercy Road is in good condition and the proposed project would make a stronger connection from it to Veterans Memorial Parkway.

The area of study extends from the corner of Piercy and Dove Creek Roads, (on the west side of the Dove Creek Bridge), east to the parkway. Courtenay Mayor Larry Jangula said he hopes to see a new bridge built north of the existing one and a more direct roadway to the parkway created.

Stone said ministry staff are analyzing the proposed project to define its scope and cost, adding he sees the proposed road and bridgework as a package deal.

“I think the benefit really comes from the straight shot that the entire project provides from the new Island Highway to the future site of the new hospital,” he said. “The bridge is an important piece of that, but the true benefit comes from the entire project so I think … moving forward on this project would involve both the bridge and the road at the same time.”

Grieve and Jangula pointed out the current one-way bridge was built as a temporary measure after a narrow wooden two-lane bridge burned in the early 2000s.

Grieve added having a full-size bridge again would be a boost to area farmers, for example.

“As it is now the farmers can’t even get some of their bigger pieces of equipment over this bridge, and have to go back through Courtenay and cross that way,” he said. “Not only that, but it’s a major artery into our new hospital, straight shot right to the airport, left-hand turn to the ferries, so there’s a lot of really good things that will come out of this.”

Comox Valley MLA Don McRae has been advocating for the project, and his goal is to have it complete by the time the new Comox Valley hospital opens in 2017.

writer@comoxvalleyrecord.com