June 06, 2013 - 5:09 PM
VERNON — North Okanagan politicians want to dump a Ministry of Transportation proposal they say would make a high-traffic Vernon intersection less user-friendly.
The Ministry of Transportation has proposed making the intersection of Highway 97 and Birnie Road right-in, right-out only, but the Regional District of North Okanagan believes that will inhibit and endanger the many drivers coming and going from the Greater Vernon landfill.
"There are 80,000 visitors there per year," RDNO chair Patrick Nicol says.
Nicol says the right-out only exit onto the highway will inconvenience drivers needing to travel northward because they will be forced to traverse Highridge or Bailey Road in order to turn around.
"One of the main issues is the extra use of fuel and increasing our greenhouse gas emissions," Nicol says.
The busy intersection already has its challenges in terms of safety and ease of use, which is why the regional district is making its own suggestion on how to improve the roadway.
"Our preference is a bridge from Birnie Road going over the highway, and improving the southbound turning lane by lengthening and enlarging it," Nicol says.
The regional district wrote a letter to the Ministry in March asking them to consider other options for the intersection, but Nicol says they never heard back.
"We have a good relationship with (the Ministry) and a great deal of respect for them, but the reality is this would be a great error," Nicol says. "Getting this road right just makes sense. This is our chance."
The regional district recently purchased a parcel of land beside the landfill which Nicol says will extend the life of the facility.
"The number of trips to Birnie Road are only expected to rise," he says.
At a board meeting Wednesday, directors voted to send a second letter to the Ministry asking for a face-to-face sit down. "We're asking them to attend a meeting of the Committee of the Whole to review the options being considered," Nicol says.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013