By Steve Hubrecht

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One of Invermere’s most noticeable infrastructure projects took a major step toward completion late last week, with 13th Avenue getting paved.

Work on 13th Avenue includes sewer and water upgrades, as well as realignment and repaving of the avenue itself and the creation of a separated pedestrian and bicycle pathway beside the avenue. Construction began several months ago, and has been a major talking point for Invermere resident ever since, in part because 13th Avenue is one Invermere’s main thoroughfares and in part because the closure of 13th resulted in a bottleneck of traffic during drop-off and pick-up times at Eileen Madson Primary School (which sit squarely along the detour around the closure).

Several residents had recently expressed concern to the Pioneer that the work would not be finished before the end of this fall and that the closure and bottleneck would continue through the winter. No doubt these residents and others were delighted, then, to see 13th Avenue paved on Thursday, Nov. 4 and Friday, Nov. 5, the driveway tie-ins along 13th paved on Saturday Nov. 5, and the road opened to traffic on Sunday, Nov. 6.

Invermere mayor Al Miller cautioned that not all the work is done, but did express relief that the bulk of it is complete and that vehicles are able to drive on it.

“We’re very happy with the result,” Miller told the Pioneer. “It is nice to have it paved. Certainly, we didn’t expect it to take this long. But it turned out to be a more difficult project than was anticipated.”

One of the biggest complicating factors was that the water main was on one side of the road, and the sewer on the other.

“That meant they had to take up the whole road, but could only do half the work at a time,” explained Miller, adding he took a drive over the newly paved parts of 13th Avenue and “I believe they’ve done a fantastic job. It’s very smooth. Where the driveway tie-ins are, you can barely see the seams…It looks really nice. You also can see quite clearly how the road was shifted to the east to allow for the pathway.”

Work still needing to be done includes line painting and inspection chamber boxes, which are needed at all the manholes, and finishing off the stormwater swales, said Miller.

“The line painting should happen soon, but it is weather permitting. Given the time of year, who knows for sure, it will depend on the conditions,” said Miller. “The contractor is also looking to do the inspection boxes this fall, and it is possible that in order to get them done, 13th Avenue may need to go down to single lane traffic.”

The stormwater swales still need some soil work and hydro-seeding.