British Columbia’s highways system used to be the envy of the rest of Canada. Our transportation systems (including the ferries) were the backbone of an economy that was unrivalled in the rest of the country. What happened?
Could it be the continual cutbacks in maintenance, quality of construction and design, lack or compromise of that construction, tolerance of excuses rather than insistence on solutions that have resulted in the less than stellar transportation system that we have today? Our highway system is deteriorating faster than we can repair or replace it. Hence, we have adopted a “bubble gum and bailing wire” mentality regarding the maintenance and upgrades to our highways and ferries systems.
The provincial government built the Coquihalla Highway (200 kilometres) and the Kelowna Connector (80 kilometres) in five years during the 1980’s. Today a 40-kilometre (from Monte Creek junction to Jade Mountain) section of the Trans-Canada Highway will take four years to build according to the transportation minister. Some of this road has already been under construction for two years.
Why so long?
Look at these examples:
• People of the Kootenays having to petition to have their roads maintained properly;
• A child from Lilloeet having to write the minister begging for safety improvements so that no other children have to endure the loss of members of their family;
• The four-lane highway at Duck Lake (Kelowna) was the site of another fatal head-on collision because of lack of highway divisions and maintenance;
• Lions Bay Mayor, requesting proper divisions on the Sea to Sky Highway in his area;
• The ongoing horror stories regarding the highway maintenance and neglect between Golden and Salmon Arm (16 people killed in 2014).
The people of the Interior have long endured the effects of the highways ministries’ Risk Management policies. The people take all the risks and the highways ministry manages to come up with the excuses. Is an investigation into the behaviour of the highways ministry warranted? I think so, hope you do too.
R.A. (Bob) Edwards