THE KICKING HORSE CANYON ROUTE
The Trans-Canada Highway in the Rocky Mountains between Golden, British Columbia and Lake Louise, Alberta passes through some of the most breathtaking scenery to be found in Canada.
The section through the Kicking Horse Canyon just east of Golden was originally a narrow, winding two-lane highway with steep rock faces on one side, and a drop-off to the CP Rail main line and Kicking Horse River on the other. Posing significant construction, maintenance and operational challenges, it had not had major upgrading since it was built in the 1950s.
Commercial carriers make up a large proportion of traffic along this section of the Trans-Canada Highway, and it is also the favoured route for tourists, carrying over 10,000 vehicles per day during the peak summer period.
Revitalizing this portion of the national highway system, a critical link to British Columbia’s ports and southern routes, is critical to strengthening the province as Canada’s Asia-Pacific connection and gateway to the world. As a result, the 26-kilometre Kicking Horse Canyon Project, consisting of improvements between the Highway 95 junction at Golden and the western boundary of Yoho National Park, is one of the provincial government’s top transportation priorities.
The highway is being improved to a modern four-lane standard with a design speed of 100 km/hour to move traffic more safely and efficiently. Sharp curves and steep grades are being reduced, and narrow bridges are being replaced to increase capacity, improve traffic operations and reduce hazards.
The first three phases of the project, cost-shared by the Government of British Columbia and the Government of Canada, have been completed, bringing the total length of finished improvements to over 21 kilometres out of the total project length of 26 kilometres.
Phase 4 has received funding approval from the provincial and federal governments and will tackle the difficult canyon section.