When drivers cruise down Highway 97 south of Prince George this long weekend, it should be a safer voyage then it was during previous journeys.
After more than a year of construction, the 3.5 kilometre stretch of highway widening Highway 97 past Sintich Road to four lanes and improving the intersections at Holmes Road and Bowron Road are complete.
The project cost $17 million and is part of the second phase of the government's plan for the Cariboo Connecter from Prince George to Cache Creek. There are nine projects worth $200 million in this phase of highway upgrades.
The first phase of the Cariboo Connector project, which included twinning the five kilometres of highway from the Simon Fraser bridge to Sintich Road, was completed in 2010.
Todd Stone, minister of transportation and infrastructure, said the remaining eight projects in phase two should be finished between now and 2017, completing almost half of the 440 kilometres from Prince George to Cache Creek.
"We're still in the early discussion stage as to what investments will take place beyond that," said Stone.
Prince George-Valemount MLA Shirley Bond called the completion of the first project of phase two a milestone that'll have far reaching benefits.
"It keeps people working, but more importantly it is about future investment and making sure we have the infrastructure necessary for that economic development we're on the verge of seeing come to fruition in the province," said Bond, minister of jobs, tourism and skills and labour training. "Most importantly for me this is about safety."
Between 2008 and 2012, there were 33 collisions on the just-completed stretch of highway, according to ICBC's crash map, including 12 fatalities. The highest volume of collisions was nine in 2011, while there was five in 2012.