Most folks in the 70 Mile House area want to see the speed limit on the community’s 2.5-kilometre corridor on Highway 97 reduced until safety measures are put in place by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI).
The 70 Mile House Safety and Speed Reduction Committee (70MHSSRC) circulated a petition at five locations in the community from July 29 to Sept. 1, and received resounding support from those who use that corridor on both a daily basis and seasonally.
The petition, which asked if folks were in favour of setting a 70 km/h speed limit in the corridor until safety measures are implemented, was signed by 576 people, 70MHSSRC member Tom Grantham explains.
Currently, the speed limit is 100 kilometres per hour, but area residents believe it’s dangerous because it is too fast, especially in winter when braking distances are much longer.
There have been numerous motor-vehicle incidents in that area of the highway, he says, adding there is a lot of concern for residents’ safety.
Grantham notes there are 16 residential and business access roads that come directly onto Highway 97 in that 2.5-km stretch, and many accesses have limited visibility.
He says the local committee would like to see the MOTI identify things it would do to address the safety concerns, such as third lane or signage.
“We would like to see the speed limit reduced to a mandatory 70 km/h until there is some implementation of safety changes. We think it’s a reasonable request and expectation.”
Meanwhile, Grantham says there has been some voluntary compliance to the suggested 70 km/h and electronic signs – installed by the MOTI last December.
He adds this has caused some confusion because the motorists are slowing down but the logging and transport trucks want to go the mandated 100 km/h.
Then the big trucks get up right behind them and lay on the horns, he says, because they’re trying to push the legal speed limit.
“This is why [MOTI] should change the speed limit for at least the foreseeable future until such a time as they get turning lanes and better infrastructure built out here.”
70MHSSRC members would like to see the ministry put some electronic speed-reader signs at each end of the corridor, so drivers can see how fast they are going.
They want an amber light installed at the intersection of Highway 97 and North Bonaparte Road, which is the main turnoff to the business centre and the entrance to recreation areas to the east.
The petition has been sent to the MOTI.
Thompson-Nicola Regional District Bonaparte Plateau Director Sally Watson will be presenting the petition to Transportation Minister Todd Stone and taking it to the Union of British Columbia Municipalities Conference, Sept. 22-26.