Business Input Sought on Economic Growth Opportunities If Highway 97 Rail and Bridge Clearances are Upgraded

Prince George, BC – Northern Development Initiative Trust (Northern Development) and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure announced today they are seeking business input into a comprehensive study focused on the business case for economic growth and diversification over the next 15 years if eight low clearance overhead railway crossings and the Salmon River and Parsnip bridges located between Quesnel and Dawson Creek on Highway 97 are upgraded to current standards.  The eight structures currently have a minimum clearance of 4.64 metres and industry has stated that vertical clearances and width constraints hamper their ability to diversify manufacturing as well as supply and freely move large equipment and loads to and from Northeast BC and the rest of the province.

A few examples of loads that have had to be sourced or trucked through Alberta rather than up or down Highway 97 include compressor station components, combines, manufactured homes, large dozers, drilling tanks, bridge components, and coal and ore trucks used in the mining industry.  The inability to move many large loads up and down Highway 97 through the section from Quesnel to Dawson Creek impairs the ability of BC manufacturers and suppliers to competitively quote against companies from outside the province on service and repair, supply, or major construction contracts within BC.  Costs increase when heavy equipment and loads have to be broken down to move safely under the bridge and rail overheads or transported around the Pine Pass through Alberta.  The study is geared toward a better understanding of the actual impacts of existing road features on economic diversification and the recommendations and cost to mitigate those constraints.

Firms that wish to prepare a proposal to conduct this study should complete the request for proposal on the www.bcbid.gov.bc.ca website prior to the December 5th, 2008 deadline.  The study is expected to be completed by May 31st, 2009.  Application materials are also available on the Northern Development website:

If your manufacturing, supplier or trucking business currently experiences issues with transporting large structures and equipment up and down the section of Highway 97 between Quesnel and Dawson Creek, or if you anticipate growth in your business revenues if height and width clearances are increased, please contact either of the individuals below to provide your input to the study consultants.

A business case is critical to understanding the impacts and opportunities for growth in the economy in both our region and across BC.  Without input outlining positive financial benefits above the cost of road infrastructure improvements, they are unlikely to happen.  Be a part of growing the northern economy.

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About Northern Development

Northern Development Initiative Trust is an independent regional economic development corporation focused on stimulating economic growth and job creation in central and northern British Columbia. Over $42 million in funding has been committed to 255 projects with a total project value of over $252 million. For information on funding programs and economic development in central and northern British Columbia, visit: http://www.northerndevelopment.bc.ca/

Media Contacts

Dean McKinley
Economic Development Manager
Northern Development Initiative Trust
250-561-2525
dean@northerndevelopment.bc.ca

Greg Woollacott
Regional Manager, Planning & Partnerships
Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure
250-565-6062
Greg.Woollacott@gov.bc.ca