Proposed changes to a dangerous intersection are drawing heavy fire.
Most residents and business owners who attended an open house Thursday were opposed to the Ministry of Transportation’s plan to prevent left-hand turns from Stickle Road on to Highway 97.
“I think it’s a bunch of BS,” said Bob Tauffenbach, who has lived in the Silver Star RV Park since 1992.
“The most common sense is a traffic light.”
Serry Massoud, who owns Squires Four Pub, fears the impact of right-in, right-out traffic movements at the intersection.
“I depend on the people from the RV park in the summer and they won’t be able to come across the highway,” he said. “People can’t come off the highway for dinner (from the south) and then back on to the highway.”
The ministry states that during peak hours, there are 11 to 34 left-turns from the east side of Stickle Road on to the highway, one left-hand turn on the west side and two straight-through movements.
Juliette Cunningham, a Vernon councillor, questions the statistics.
“Numbers are low on their counts because people avoid (turning left) there,” she said.
Ministry figures show there have been three fatalities at the intersection between 2003 and 2012, 18 injuries and 29 cases of property damage.
If the plan proceeds, a vehicle on the east side of Stickle Road wanting to go south will have to use Pleasant Valley Road and city roads instead of turning left on to Highway 97. For those on the west side and wanting to travel north, they will first have to go south into Vernon and make their way over to 27th Street or Pleasant Valley Road to access the highway.
“Pleasant Valley Road can’t keep up with all of those semis,” said Pat Loehndorf, general manager of Bannister Honda, which uses large semi-trucks to deliver new inventory of vehicles.
Loehndorf insists the ministry’s proposal will hurt the economic and future development along the Swan Lake corridor.
“I have 27 families in my business and this will impact them. It will be hard for customers to come out there and do business,” he said.
That is also the view of Randy James, owner of Vernon Motorsports.
“We all rely on customers and if we make it tough for customers, they will find somewhere else to go,” he said. “They (ministry) are not really listening to what people have to say.”
The ministry defend the right-in, right-out concept and says a traffic light is not necessary.
“It doesn’t meet signal warrants because only five per cent of the traffic makes any turning movements there,” said Rampaul Dulay, project director, adding that 95 per cent of the traffic goes through the intersection on the highway.
Dulay says there should be no issues with diverting traffic on to Pleasant Valley Road.
“The purpose of a local road is local traffic,” he said.
The estimated cost of the right-in, right-out project is $3 million, and a light would add about $400,000 to $500,000.
The goal is to tender the work this fall but if there are significant demands for a light, Dulay says engineers will review the option again.
“It’s not a done deal,” he said of right-in, right-out.