Construction continues on the first phase of Trans-Canada Highway widening east of Kamloops, but no one can say when the rest of the upgrading through to Chase can begin.
No one will use the word "delay," yet the next four phases await conclusion of an agreement between local First Nations and the province over archeological values, cultural heritage and construction impacts.
"This has been a fundamental change," said Neskonlith Chief Judy Wilson. "It is about our ancestors and the care and attention we need to take."
The current $7.2-million phase resumed in January. Four-laning of the Trans-Canada Highway from Monte Creek to Bostock Road, which was delayed two years after Aboriginal remains were discovered, should be completed by this fall.
Work underway includes blasting and paving the grade, with paving of the new lanes to be done in June. Once those lanes are constructed, the highway will be rebuilt and repaved over the summer.
A total of $160 million in federal and provincial funding is earmarked for the whole project through to Chase.
The parties meet on a regular basis, said Wayne Fraser, regional manager of project delivery with the Ministry of Transportation, but no deadline has been imposed on reaching an agreement.
"Basically, I think everyone knows the importance of safety of the corridor," he said. "It's just a matter of eventually sealing the deal. It's been very positive."
Archeological work has underway on the second phase since February. That, together with a government-to-government agreement, must precede the next phase of road construction, Fraser said.
"Their team and our team are very focused on the next phases."
Subsequent phases will include Hoffman's Bluff, which earned the route the ominous title of "killer highway" due to a high number of traffic fatalities during the busy summer season.
There are plans to widen the highway all the way through to the Alberta border. First Nations are hoping that any agreement achieved will apply to those road improvements as well.