At the April 12, 2021, regular council meeting, staff will present to Council the options available regarding the current slope failure and subsequent closure of the gravel shoulder on Lanfear Hill.
On March 16, the City closed Lanfear Hill to pedestrian and cyclist use as it was deemed unsafe due to slope failure activity. Staff took steps to secure an immediate geotechnical review and received a memo from the geotechnical consultant on March 26, 2021. Staff are currently reviewing this document and considering options to present to council to ensure stability of the steep slope and that address both vehicle use and pedestrian/cycling routes.
“The closure to pedestrians has been a temporary requirement to ensure public safety while the geotechnical assessment was being conducted. We recognize that the current arrangement is not a sustainable long-term solution for pedestrians, and we recognize that our next steps may not be a permanent solution either. Lanfear Hill is a key priority of our 2017 Transportation Master Plan, and the City’s goal is to complete the Lanfear Hill Improvement Project to reconstruct this important route in our transportation network, including sidewalks, lane widening, bike lanes, and other upgrades,” said David Block, Director of Development Services and Interim Director of Public Works and Engineering.
In 2019, the City applied for $9 million in funding from the Rural and Northern Communities program for the $10 million project. Unfortunately, the provincial government did not select this project for funding.
Despite receiving bad news about the previous grant application, staff recommended the City continue with preliminary design work to strengthen future grant applications. In January 2021, Council approved the 2021-2025 five-year financial plan, which included $150,000 from the Northern Capital and Planning Grant (NCPG) reserve for preliminary design work to take place in 2021 and detailed design work planned for 2022 ($250,000 from NCPG reserve funds).
Timeline of Lanfear Hill:
- 2009: The Active Transportation Plan identifies a pedestrian staircase from the Horseshoe to the Bench as a priority.
- 2017: The Transportation Master Plan lists Lanfear as a key priority for upgrades for driver safety as well as active transportation. Consultants identified Lanfear Hill as the only road that does not have sufficient capacity to accommodate higher traffic volumes by 2025.
- January 2019: City applies for a $9 million grant from the Rural and Northern Communities program for the $10 million Lanfear Hill improvement project. The grant requires the applicant to cover 10% of the project, or $1 million, which the City was able to cover through the Capital Works Reserve Fund and other sources. Early in 2020, the City was notified this request for funding was denied.
- October 2020: Staff apply for funding (for the third time) for the Eby Staircase Connection Project, which aims to connect lower Eby St. to upper Eby St. via an all-season aluminum staircase with a bike rail for easier bike transport. Of the total estimated project cost of $721,451, the City would cover 10%, or $72,145, from the Northern Capital and Planning Grant Fund, and requested the remaining funding through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program’s Rural and Northern Communities stream. Grants are expected to be awarded later this year for this funding stream.
- January 2021: The City continues with preliminary design work in order to strengthen future grant applications. Council approves the 2021-2025 five-year plan, which includes $150,000 from the Northern Capital and Planning Grant (NCPG) reserve for a detailed geotechnical investigation and preliminary design work to take place in 2021 and detailed design work planned for 2022 ($250,000 from NCPG reserve funds).
- March 2021: The City closes the gravel shoulder on Lanfear to pedestrian use due to slope instability and slumping of portions of the gravel shoulder and commissioned a geotechnical consultant to conduct a safety assessment of the roadway and hill slopes.