Talk is cheap regarding TCH project

Kamloops Daily News
February 8, 2013 01:00 AM

Let's hope Thursday's announcement in Kamloops seeming to confirm 2013 expansion of the Trans-Canada Highway to Chase - as well as eventually the rest of the highway through to the Alberta border - is more than politicking in the run-up to May's election.

The highway project, of course, has been discussed and promised so many times, it's hard to be anything but cynical about the prospect it will ever be built.

Last year, Premier Christy Clark promised $650 million over 10 years to widen the highway all the way to the Alberta border. It was good news because the highway sorely needs the upgrade. There are too many sections of it that can't stand the volume of traffic the road now sees. Making the highway four lanes through its B.C. length will save lives.

Transportation Minister Mary Polak was in Kamloops to announce a series of "community engagement" open houses. The events will be staged in Kamloops, Chase, Salmon Arm, Sicamous, Revelstoke and Golden.

Presumably, the open houses will help planners decide the priorities for widening through the next decade.

"Help shape the government's $650 million investment over the next 10 years," pleads an advertisement in support of the announcement.

Are the open houses the first concrete steps to make the highway expansion a reality? Maybe, but the cynics among us will quickly seize on an old cliche - talk is cheap.

Are these community engagement sessions necessary, or mostly a way to stretch the political life out of one more empty promise?

Is there really a need to seek input from the public on this issue? The highway's most dangerous sections are well known. It's hard to conceive how anyone will oppose the expansion project? What is it precisely the government wants to learn?

Far more convincing a sign the government means business would be calls for tender. It's not until big machinery is breaking ground will we truly be able to accept the long-promised safety enhancements are finally underway.

Only a government that commits in such a fashion should reap the political reward.

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