Traffic studies have been conducted for the project area in 2010, 2013 and 2016. These studies reviewed traffic volumes and patterns in the project area in detail. The studies conclude that traffic operations could be improved with the Boxwood Connector. The studies also indicate that improvements on Northfield Road can be phased, and that the ultimate road widening between Bowen Road and Boxwood Road can be completed several years after the Boxwood Connector is constructed, or as adjacent properties redevelop.
The Boxwood Connector was identified as a major road improvement project in the 2014 Nanaimo Transportation Master Plan.
Below is an old photograph of the intersection of Bowen Road and Northfield Road courtesy of the Nanaimo Community Archives. Photograph year unknown.
The project site was the former location of mining waste disposal and construction fill material dumping. As a result of this historical land use, soil and groundwater contamination is present within the site. Significant environmental studies and investigations have been conducted on the property to determine the types and levels of contamination. With this information a detailed environmental remediation plan that meets provincial regulations was prepared and used to apply for the necessary approvals to proceed with the project.
The project has been carefully designed to improve the function of many environmentally sensitive features that have been previously disturbed from historic impacts. Below is a series of old photographs included in one of the environmental reports. Photos courtesy of the BC Archives. Photos interpretation courtesy of McElhanney Consulting Engineers.
Environmental remediation work, including construction of a naturalized public area with riparian plantings, was completed in 2019. This naturalized area will also serve as a detention pond during storm events.
With the project site being a former location of mining waste disposal and construction fill material dumping, significant geotechnical investigations have been conducted on the project site over the years. These studies helped identify the assortment of materials and conditions below the native surface, including layers of historic mining and construction waste, and layers of organic peat and soft soils.
In 2019, extensive soil remediation work was completed including the placement of pre-load material that will be left for 2 years to help compact the soil for the future roadway improvements.
After the soils under the future roadways have stopped settling, the pre-load material will be removed from the site and final ground improvement can be finished. This will involve specialized construction equipment that compresses the soil through a method called 'rapid impact compaction'.