Construction has begun in Radium Hot Springs as the community’s prominent four-way stop is being replaced with a new $11.9-million roundabout. It’s a welcome addition according to Mayor Clara Reinhardt, with both short-term and long-term benefits for the resort community.
The Village of Radium Hot Springs, like other tourist towns in B.C., has seen a decrease in visitors given the COVID-19 pandemic, but the new $11.9-million roundabout is sparking economic activity.
“The impact really has been on how friendly they are with the locals and how well they’re working with the locals,” Reinhardt told MyEastKootenayNow.com, Mayor of Radium Hot Springs. “They are a welcome addition to the community right now given how slow things have been over the course of the winter. To have those folks in here staying here, and eating here, and hanging out has been actually kind of fun to have some activity again.”
Nanaimo’s Copcan Civil Ltd. was awarded the contract for the work, which is being cost-shared between the provincial and federal governments. $4.8-million is coming from Ottawa while the remaining $7.1-million is coming from Victoria.
Reinhardt said that once the contractors arrived, work instantly began as the community is now seeing daily changes with new infrastructure and repairs.
“There’s been some dust, but they do have water trucks to keep the dust down,” noted Reinhardt. “They work really closely with the businesses that are impacted and they’re helping them with signage.”
The Mayor believes the roundabout will be a significant improvement for the community and should provide better traffic flow for commuters coming from Highway 93 through Kootenay National Park or up and down Highway 93/95 from Golden or the Columbia Valley
“When I look at the long-term, there’s people who are concerned about the traffic flowing through too quickly and not stopping and visiting us or paying attention to any of our businesses. I think that initially, the change will be when next spring we start having the full diversion from Highway 1 and getting new people through here that maybe have never been here before, which that is one of the reasons why we got the roundabout to allow for that and to be able to cope with the extra traffic.”
The federal government is looking at a multi-year project on Highway 1 in Kicking Horse Canyon that will close the highway for weeks at a time and force traffic down Highway 93/95 through Radium Hot Springs. The 4.8-kilometre section of road is being twinned, doubling to four lanes. It’s anticipated the closure will impact traffic at least 15 weeks a year and a maximum of 30 weeks for the entirety of construction.
Reinhardt said the roundabout will assuredly help with traffic flow when those closures are eventually implemented, viewing it as an opportunity for more visitors to Radium Hot Springs.
The roundabout in Radium is expected to be complete by the end of 2020.
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Reinhardt noted one other unique opportunity the roundabout has brought for the community. A Request for Proposal (RFP) is open to the public for suggestions and pricing for an “iconic” art piece for the middle of the roundabout. The RFP is open until August 7, 2020, providing artists and sculptors with a chance to have a feature piece of work in the community.
“It provides a focus for drivers, it provides a welcome. It’s something that people can look at and say we’ve arrived, we’re in Radium Hot Springs, the gateway to the Columbia Valley,” Reinhardt told MyEastKootenayNow.com. “We’re just waiting for that posting to close and we can start reading through the options that will be made available to us.”
MORE: Radium Hot Springs RFP for Roundabout Art (Radium Hot Springs)
Overall Reinhardt, is optimistic about the roundabout project and believes it is of great significance to Radium Hot Springs both now and moving forward.
“We’re excited, it’s fun to see activity in the Village and we note that everyone that is coming to visit us is behaving responsibly and we’re just happy to see them.”