Just in time for the May long weekend, the Trans-Canada Highway will reopen to traffic through Golden, British Columbia, starting at noon on Friday.
Since April 12, Alberta drivers travelling to B.C. west of Golden have had to take a 90-minute detour from the Castle Junction intersection west of Banff, Alta., travelling south on Highway 93 through Kootenay National Park, then north from Radium, B.C., up Highway 95.
The detour was to allow for crews to work on phase four of the Kicking Horse Canyon Project — a $601-million endeavour to upgrade 4.8 kilometres of the highway through challenging sections of the canyon to improve safety.
The project will realign 13 curves and widen the highway to four lanes with a median barrier and wider shoulders to accommodate cyclists, add wildlife passages, as well as create bridges to mitigate rock fall and avalanche hazards, among other things.
"We're excited to see that as of noon [Friday] that the highway will be open. Clear sailing through the weekend, no disruption at all so folks can get out and enjoy themselves," said Mike Lorimer, executive project director.
"We've seen a big change over the last month as some of the bridge girders, some of the viaducts, they're starting to take shape."
Lormier is warning drivers not to get distracted by all of the structures that are being built as part of the project.
With this stretch of Highway 1 reopening, congestion should be relieved along Highways 93 and 95, which saw about 5,000 extra vehicles a day during the closure.
"You would expect to see more incidents with more traffic, and you do see that. But, I think we've seen a really good month here."
Lorimer expects traffic could reach 10,000 vehicles a day over the long weekend.
"What we're trying to do is do our work when there's less traffic on the road, and trying, really, to stay out of the way when those peak volumes come through."
Lorimer said there will continue to be intermittent closures along the Trans-Canada Highway during the spring and some overnight closures between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.
He recommends checking DriveBC for the latest updates.
"Once we get into the real heart of summer, you won't see any disruptions during the day."
He said he doesn't expect the next major long-term closure to happen until the end of September "at the earliest."