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where some see challenges

We see a gateway to the west

With steep rock faces and a sharp drop-off to the river below, the Kicking Horse Pass posed significant engineering and construction challenges. As the Owner's Engineer, WSP was integral to ensuring the success of this critical link to the west.

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Kicking Horse Canyon Highway

26 Total project length
6000 direct and indirect jobs created
3 Phases complete (Phase 4 Preliminary Design Complete)
21 Length of improvements completed
10000 vehicles per day in the summer
21 The number of months Park Bridge was completed ahead of schedule
800 Estimated project cost (Phase 4 not completed)
20 value of commercial trips per year
11 Overall project awards

As lead engineer, WSP's darcy grykuliak had the challenge of his career ahead of him. Assembling the right team was integral to the project's success.

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Project slideshow

See how we transformed a 21km stretch of highway in the canadian rockies

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An overview of the project and its key areas.

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PHASE 1: At 6 Mile Hill, construction began with rock removal and stabilization, and was completed in 2000.

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The twin 2-lane Yoho Bridge, highway realignment and approaches were completed in 2004.

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A rafter pullout and a rest area with an interpretive centre supports recreational tourism in the region.

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The large debris containment walls, as seen on the left of the image, help to improve the safety and reliability of the route.

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The final segment of Phase 1, which was completed in 2006, was an innovative bridge structure, cantilevered over a bend in the Kicking Horse River.

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PHASE 2: The new Park Bridge during construction. On average, a pier rose by four metres every three days.

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The new Park Bridge taking shape high above the existing highway. The bridges' girders where hydraulically pushed from the west abutment in a process called “launching”.

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The community liaison committee inspects progress in June 2006.

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Loaders and trucks remove rock following a blast. During Phase 2, enough material to fill 200,000 large dump trucks was excavated. A line-up of that many trucks on the Trans Canada Highway would reach from Vancouver to Regina!

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Building roads in the mountains involves a lot of “cut-and-fill” work. Rock that is cut from one area is then used to fill hollows and gaps to form the new highway, which will ultimately be straighter, wider, and safer than its predecessor.

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The new Park Bridge is approximately 440 metres long and 90 metres high. It was completed on August 30, 2007, 21 months ahead of schedule.

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The walls of this rock cut on the north side of the Kicking Horse River near the Park Bridge are some 90 metres high.

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Approximatly 20,000 square metres of drape mesh was used to reinforce slopes where required.

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PHASE 3 EAST: The new Mt. Hunter Creek Bridge, with a special wildlife underpass shown at the lower left side of the bridge.

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Phase 3 East included 8.8 kms of upgraded highway with concrete median barriers, two additional wildlife crossings and fencing throughout. These updates were completed in 2011.

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The slopes in the Kicking Horse Canyon are notoriously unstable and slow to establish plant growth. Because construction often resulted in the removal of existing vegetation, planting ledges were created by installing straw 'logs' along slope contours. These terraces encourage moisture retention and improve surface soil stability while the plantings of native vegetation are established.

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PHASE 3 WEST: The new Golden Donald Upper Road interchange.

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Phase 3 West included a massive retaining wall that is over 8 metres high and approximately 125 metres long. Built on a curve, the wall allowed for the existing highway to be widened to four lanes and provides a more stable slope just east of Golden, BC.

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A new cycling & pedestrian path runs along the highway for just over one km from the Visitor Information Centre to Station Avenue on Golden Hill. The path, complete with a new lookout location, provides a safe connection between the lower and upper sections of Golden’s business and residential areas.

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Intelligent Transportation System installations provide timely information on current traffic conditions.

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With the completion of Phase 3, there are now over 21 continuous kilometres of safe, reliable and modern highway through some of the most difficult terrain in the province, more than doubling what was previously completed in Phases 1 and 2.

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The Kicking Horse Canyon Project won the prestigious Premier’s Award in Innovation and Excellence in 2006. In addition, the project received many other accolades for its innovative engineering and environmental techniques.

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