Dangerous stretch of 97 getting safety improvements and speed limit bump
By Howard Alexander
Emergency personnel on the scene of a fatal traffic accident near Vernon on June 4, 2014.
Image Credit: Global Okanagan/Jim Lenton
July 03, 2014 - 3:15 PM
VERNON – The 11 kilometres on Highway 97 between Vernon and Lake Country is going to get $5-million worth of concrete median barriers to separate the four lanes of traffic.
Once the improvements are made, the Ministry of Transportation will raise the speed limit from 90 to 100 km/h.
The road between the north end of the Pelmawash Parkway in Oyama to Kalamalka View Drive in Vernon has claimed numerous lives over the years when drivers cross the centre line and into oncoming traffic.
The most recent crash claimed the life of Brian Dolman, 64, of Oyama on June 4. His SUV veered out of the southbound lanes near the Birnie Road turnoff and hit a pickup truck head-on.
Just a month earlier on May 4, Rodney Boring, 14, of Vernon was killed when the Pontiac Sunfire in which he was a passenger hit a pickup head on near Oyama.
A recent engineering safety review of the highway recommended the improvements citing the risk of crossover accidents and the high volume of traffic, up to 20,000 vehicles a day.
“The risk of collisions involving vehicles crossing the centre line on this section of Highway 97 is a significant concern,” minister of transportation Todd Stone said at a news conference Thursday.
The province will begin installing the barriers this fall.
Stone admitted there was no money available yet to make safety improvements to the intersection of Highway 97 and Birnie Road. Vehicles leaving the landfill have to make a dangerous left turn onto the highway.
“I’m very familiar with Birnie Road and the concerns that have been expressed by the regional district and others in the area,” Stone said. “At the end of the day, we balance the continued investment improving and upgrading our highway network in this province with our ability to afford those investments.”
Stone also promised more attention and enforcement to get slower drivers out of the passing lane calling it a “growing problem” in B.C.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014