Horne Lake Connector – roads to resources

There is a possibility that another highway on Vancouver Island will be built:  the Horne Lake Connector. In June 2013, a report by Apex Engineering was completed to assess possible new highway connector routes to Port Alberni which would enable the Port to export resources such as coal. The proposed 20+ km 2-lane Horne Lake Connector would be located between Highway 4 near Port Alberni and Highway 19 north of Parksville.

HLC routes Horne Lake Connector   roads to resources
Horne Lake Connector

Three route options were originally presented for the proposed Horne Lake Connector. All options would end up linking back to Highway 19 at the Horne Lake Intersection. The following are two possiblities:

Haggard Route – Starts at the Horne Lake intersection on Highway 19 and includes upgrading an existing secondary road between Highway 19 and Horne Lake and then following a new alignment south of Horne Lake across the Alberni Summit climbing to 514m before linking back to Highway 4 near Port Alberni. The proposed link is an 80 km/hr design, 20.2 km long and generally follows existing forest service roads.

Lacey Lake Route – Follows the same secondary route to Horne Lake and then diverges to the north of the lake along an existing forest service road, then turns south climbing to 400m before descending to Highway 4 at Port Alberni – 80 km/hr design, length 27.3 km

Haggard/Lacey Hybrid – Follows the Haggard route south of Horne Lake then diverges to the west linking to the Lacey Lake Route – 80 km/hr design, length 25.1 km.

HorneLake closeup Horne Lake Connector   roads to resources
Horne Lake Connector Routes – Lacey Lake Route in Green

It appears that the Lacey Lake Route is the favoured route option.  This would link the proposed potential Raven Coal Mine (or others) north of Horne Lake to the deep water port of Port Alberni. For example, the new Horne Lake Connector would make it possible to have 150 truck trips a day or 75 round trips to deliver the coal to ships waiting in Port Alberni.

At a time when most countries are facing economic austerity, why is it that taxpayers must fund roads to resources such as this project which could end up costing up to $100 million for a 25 kilometre stretch of highway? Why not consider reactivating the Alberni rail line?

The answer possibly lies in the Canada Strategic Infrastructure Plan— a $4.3 billion bundle of money earmarked by the federal government.  The Asia Pacific Gateway Initiative is rolling out our resources to countries in the far east just as long as we pay for all the infrastructure. Is this the best we can do for the next generation?

Does anyone remember back in the 1950′s when pulp mills were everywhere in BC?  Now how many are there?