Upgrading a major access route between Atlantic Canada and the US is about more than road works – it’s about contributing to national economic prosperity.
BUILDING A GATEWAY TO THE FUTURE
The Province of New Brunswick’s CAN$540 million Route 1 Gateway officially opened on October 31, 2012. The public private partnership (P3) project involved upgrading an existing 240-kilometre corridor to a divided, four-lane highway, connecting the Trans-Canada Highway with the region’s busiest border crossing to the US.
The upgrade was part of a federal-provincial government initiative to foster economic growth in Atlantic Canada by connecting the region to North America’s largest markets more efficiently.
Improvements to this key trade corridor included:
- Design and construction of 40 kilometres of new, four-lane highway
- Twinning of 15 kilometres of the existing two-lane highway
- Safety and geometric design improvements along the remainder of the corridor
The Route 1 Gateway project is the third major highway initiative successfully undertaken by the Province of New Brunswick as a P3 project. Opus was the engineering advisor to the Government of New Brunswick for the project development, procurement and design-build phases.
Blake Wellner, Opus’s project manager, was seconded to the province from the project start until the end of the building phase. We had as many as 15 Opus staff involved in the project, some of whom came from as far away as the UK and New Zealand.
Opus conducted planning and safety studies to identify improvements to the existing highway during the project development phase. In the procurement phase, the Opus team provided advice on the project specifications, evaluation of the proposal submissions, and the selection of the preferred proponent. We also completed more than 200 design audits during the design-build phase to ensure the developer was meeting the project requirements.
The project was not without its challenges. Significant archaeological sites were discovered along the roadway alignment. Some were amongst the oldest discovered in North America. Impacts on a site between 10,000 and 11,000 years old were mitigated by realigning a 3 kilometre portion of roadway, part of which was outside the original land acquisition corridor. Artifacts were completely removed from two other sites during a four month archaeological dig.
Opus assisted the province in managing these challenges while ensuring the project remained on schedule. Our global team clearly demonstrated its P3 capabilities, and the success that the Province of New Brunswick has had using partnership models to deliver strategic highway infrastructure.