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Frustrations arise over highway improvements

The Best Western Vernon Lodge says the new concrete median on Highway 97 is affecting business because prospective customers don't know where to turn for the hotel.
December 11, 2013 - 12:08 PM

MAYOR WANTS MINISTRY TO "DEAL WITH THE SITUATION"

VERNON - The Ministry of Transportation’s pace in constructing left turn signals on Highway 97 through Vernon is frustrating City Hall.

Mayor Rob Sawatzky says council has enlisted the help of Vernon-Monashee MLA Eric Foster in speeding up the process.

The Ministry has been conducting road work along 32 Street to improve the flow of traffic—mostly by adding concrete medians to prevent left hand turns—as part of a transportation corridor initiative. But Sawatzky says a major component of the plan—adding left turn signals—has not been done.

“We were supposed to have them (signals) by now,” Sawatzky says. “If you block the ability to turn left you have to allow the ability somewhere.... You can’t do one without the other.”

Local businesses, like the Best Western Vernon Lodge, say the new medians make it hard for customers to reach them because they either have to circle back around once they’ve passed the building, or anticipate where to turn in advance. It’s something Coun. Mary Jo O’Keefe had hoped to address with signage, but a staff report states the city is powerless to meddle with Ministry right-of-ways.

“It’s an unfortunate thing Highway 97 comes right through the heart of our town and we have no control over it,” Sawatzky says. “It’s their highway, we can’t do anything on it without their approval.”

Left only with its ability to pressure the government, council plans to meet with Ministry representatives and encourage them to "deal with the situation".

“It’s not something we’re going to let go of,” Sawatzky says.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infotelnews.ca, call (250)309-5230 or tweet @charhelston.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013
InfoTel News Ltd

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