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I would like to respond to the letter by Roy Bouman with regard to the highway marking signs on Highway 97.
Roy is absolutely right when he complains of the woeful state of affairs in the way that our highways are marked for safe passage. If indeed it is a fact that highways are marked for our safety, then a strong case can be made that the Department of Highways is derelict in their duties.
I am of the same opinion that highway markings on Highway 97 are almost totally inadequate. They work fairly well in the daylight hours but that is not the case in darkness. That is especially so when you add rain or snow to the driving conditions. And in the winter time, add sand that is often obliterating the lane markers. This becomes an accident waiting to happen – especially for senior drivers whose skills and eyesight may not be up to the challenge of navigating our inadequately marked roads.
I took my case to the Department of Highways and received some of the answers Roy is looking for.
I don’t think he will be impressed with what I was told. The overseers of our highways have determined that reflective lane markers will not work here.
Their reasoning is that the sand in the winter will fill up the indentions for the reflective markers, blocking their visibility. While that may be somewhat true, I think they owe it to us to give it a try. It is completely unsatisfactory the way it is now.
Another issue I brought up with the highways department was the fact that the paint they are using to mark lanes is in evidence much less than 12 months of the year. So besides the issues raised by Roy, there are no lane markers for at least a portion of the year.
That is not the case for all lane markings but it is on corners and hills where drivers tend to stray between lanes. These are the places that the lane markers are needed the most.
I was told that the Department of Highways is now using latex paint as opposed to the oil-based paints used previously for lane marking. The reason given was that latex is more environmentally friendly.
However, the latex does not stand the test of time which by provincial and municipal standards appears to be one year. This should obviously get an immediate review.
If the reason to put lane markers on our roads is largely a safety factor, then does it hold true that if there are no adequate lane markers, there is a safety issue?
An answer to this paint problem is to apply paint twice a year...or...horror of horrors, return to oil-based paints.
Whatever the answer is, inaction should not be allowed to be an option.
I might add that this is certainly an issue not only on our province’s highways, but also in the City of Vernon. Many crosswalks, lane markers, etc. are almost completely missing from the scene from late winter until painting is done again in the spring.
Again, if crosswalk and lane markers are there for safety, the opposite must be true when these are not in place.
I would say that we need to make our feelings known to our bureaucratic friends who are making decisions and adopting policies that are completely out of touch with the obvious – and putting us all in harm's way. I would strongly suggest these decision-makers receive a wake-up call.