January 16, 2015 - 4:36 PM
KAMLOOPS – Transportation Minister Todd Stone says his ministry is responding to the concerns of a seven-year-old girl who made highway improvement suggestions after her family died in a car crash near Lillooet earlier this month.
Stone was reminded of the latest high priority section of Highway 12 earlier this week when he received a hand-written note from a girl whose family members died in a crash on the corridor. The letter asked Stone to consider adding safety barriers along the highway.
“My heart goes out to the family and I did receive her letter. It actually brought some tears to my eyes,” Stone said. “It was a very, very articulate letter for a child of that age. It really touched me. We are looking at that corridor as a top priority right now for the potential installation of a roadside median.”
An online petition to request highway improvements along Highways 99 and 12 to Whistler, Lillooet and Lytton was created on Jan. 5 by Deanne Zeidler. In its first 11 days, it has received over 1,500 signatures.
Stone referenced the ministry’s budget available for installing safety features – calling the amount “robust,” but added there are various assessments in place to justify what portions of highway receive funding.
“Frankly every inch of highway in the province you could make a case, in some respect, for median barrier or roadside barriers,” the minister said. “You really need to make sure that within the budgets that we have, that we’re putting the resources where (barriers are) the most needed.”
Beyond the ministry’s safety standards, Stone reminds motorists to continue ensuring their responsibility with winter driving.
“We do have several more months of potentially treacherous driving ahead of us so it’s very important to check DriveBC and make sure that if you have to drive that you’re doing so when it’s safe and drive to the conditions,” he said.
Stone said preliminary reports suggest the increase in speed limit has not changed highway drivers’ habits.
In an early examination of drivers’ habits on the Coquihalla, Stone said his team observed the average speed is 127 kilometres per hour – the same average speed of drivers before the posted limit increased to 120 kilometres per hour.
“That tells us that drivers are not driving any faster,” Stone said.
Regarding complaints about plowing, Stone said it’s normal to feel frustrated, but noted it’s an aspect of the season.
“We live in a province where we have winter. In the interior here we can have very treacherous conditions that can change on a dime,” he said, adding the last major snowfall was the biggest snowfall in 36 hours since the 1920s.
WINTER IN NUMBERS:
47,800 kilometers of highway in B.C. is plowed during the season.
2.8 million kilometers is plowed by 2,000 contractors supported by 800 ministry staff members
750,000 tons of material (like salt and sand) is put on the roads
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015