Above ground blasting has begun on the John Hart generating station replacement project and will continue for the next two months.
Rock tunnelling is planned for October in preparation for underground blasting expected to get underway in November.
The blasts will make way for the new underground tunnel, which will replace the three existing water-carrying penstocks, as well as a new underground generating station.
Stephen Watsons, spokesperson for BC Hydro, said the blasts will go largely unnoticed.
“Blasts will be small, closely monitored and may occur day and/or night, seven days a week,” Watson wrote in a project update report. “All work will occur in safely fenced-off areas.”
It’s estimated that up to 300,000 cubic metres of rock will be removed from the ground over a two-year period and hauled to two different locations – one at Farwell Road and the other at Middle Point.
At its peak, six to eight trucks per hour will be hauling to and from the construction site near the city’s water quality facility off Highway 28.
Meanwhile, a time lapse camera has been installed on one of the surge towers to record the project’s progress.
Watson said the camera will be used to document the process.
“Each year over the next five years a construction video will be produced,” he wrote.
“The vantage will look up the penstock route, with clear views of both portals where underground works will be constructed.”
The $1 billion project involves a new seismically sound generating station and a single underground tunnel to carry water to the generating station. Two of the three surge towers above the generating station will be removed, with one remaining for navigation and communication equipment.
A project legacy, Hydro has already created the Station View Trail, designed to reroute Canyon View trail users up and around the generating station which will be closed during deconstruction. BC Hydro has also built a new 80-stall parking lot for visitors to Elk Falls as the original parking lot will be inaccessible once construction moves into the area.
As part of that phase of the project, the Brewster Lake bridge will be re-built and is expected to be closed to traffic in January 2015 for up to three years.
BC Hydro’s project information centre has shifted its hours as of Sept. 2.
Through the fall season, the interpretive centre (located in the new Elk Falls parking lot) will be open Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.