Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Stickle plans drives forward

By Kate Bouey - CASTANET Nov 15, 2016 / 9:26 am
The Transportation Ministry is driving forward a controversial improvement plan for the Highway 97, Stickle Road intersection north of Vernon despite a public preference for a traffic light. But the traffic light option was ruled out after a third-party safety study found it would cause more rear end collisions, according to the ministry.The ministry plan is fully supported by Vernon-Monashee MLA Eric Foster. "Improving safety is our top priority for the Highway 97/Stickle Road intersection," said Foster. "The ministry's design is the best option for protecting safety and it also will keep people and goods moving efficiently, so it's important to construct this project for the benefit of local highway users and the travelling public at large." The ministry plan, which will connect the south end of the Stickle Frontage Road to the end of 20th Street behind the Rona store, has been in the public eye for many months and has been condemned by a number of residents in the area and by naturalists worried about dwindling wetland. But the ministry has decided there has been enough talk. "Public engagement is an important part of this process and my ministry would like to thank everyone who provided their input at the three open houses and through feedback forms," Transportation Minister Todd Stone. "Given that many of the comments we received indicated a preference for a traffic signal to be installed, the ministry asked an independent road safety expert to compare the ministry's design with a traffic signal. “While both improvement options were considered, the report concluded that a traffic signal is not supported as it would further increase the risk of rear-end collisions and delay traffic." The report concluded that the installation of a traffic signal on a roadway where the posted speed exceeds 64 km/hr can provide an overall five per cent reduction in crashes, however the frequency of rear-end collisions can increase substantially. In comparison, the restricted movement configuration can result in an overall 20 per cent reduction in crashes. A total of 150 people commented on the project through feedback forms, email and mail – many of them calling for a traffic light at the intersection. The ministry also held consultations with the City of Vernon, the regional district, local stakeholders and with the public. The proposed changes at the Stickle Road intersection will extend left turn lanes onto Highway 97 and see the installation of acceleration and deceleration lanes while removing the left turn onto the highway. As well, there will be a new road to connect the south end of the Stickle Frontage Road to the end of 20th Street in Vernon.

The ministry says these improvements will:

increase safety by reducing the number and severity of collisions at the intersection
maintain the flow of traffic along Highway 97
maintain access to Stickle Road for residents and businesses
In an effort to appease naturalists, the ministry also plans to improve fish habitat, plant native riparian vegetation, remove invasive plant species and install bird and bat nesting boxes. As well, crews will rebuild portions of the existing BX Creek corridor trail that are impacted by the planned improvements, to ensure existing access to Swan Lake and BX Creek are maintained.

The $9.5 million project is expected to go to tender by early 2017. The ministry estimated that a traffic signal would have cost approximately $7.8 million.
Link to Report http://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/driving-and-transportation/transportation-infrastructure/projects/okanagan-valley-corridor/stickle/stickle-safety-review.pdf

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