Speed increase draws fire

Higher speed limits are getting a rough ride from at least one community leader.

The Ministry of Transportation is increasing the speed on four sections of highway in the North Okanagan, including Highway 97A on both sides of Enderby from 90 to 100 kilometres an hour.

“I’d be interested in the rationale and justification for it,” said Howie Cyr, Enderby mayor and a former RCMP officer.

A date for the new limit has not been announced yet, but it will cover Highway 97A from Smith Drive in Armstrong to the Highway 97B junction, north of Enderby.

The limit through Enderby itself will remain at 50 kilometres an hour but Cyr says there’s already a problem with trying to get motorists to ease from the higher to lower speed.

“When they come into the city, you can work radar all day because some people push the envelope,” he said, adding that concerns about pedestrian safety will likely come from the Splatsin First Nation.

“It would have been nice if the ministry had consulted with the communities impacted.”

Other routes that will see their limits increased some time this year are:

Highway 97, from the Swan Lake junction to Westside Road, will go from 80 to 90 kilometres an hour.

Highway 97A, from the Highway 97B junction to Sicamous, will go from 80 to 90 kilometres an hour, excluding the 50 km/h section through Grindrod.

Between Gatzke Road in Oyama and College Way in Coldstream, Highway 97 will go from 90 to 100 kilometres an hour but not until concrete barriers are installed between the north/south lanes.

Eric Foster, Vernon-Monashee MLA, isn’t concerned a higher speed limit will see an upswing in excessive speeding.

“Some people always drive too fast but most people drive at their comfort level,” he said.

Support also comes from Shuswap MLA Greg Kyllo.

“They have erred on the side of caution by not elevating the speed limits too high,” he said.

Transportation Minister Todd Stone says the new speed limits reflect the natural flow of traffic and safety improvements to roads.

“The technology in vehicles has improved as has (public) education, enforcement and penalties,” he said.

The RCMP are saying little about the rules.

“Our priority in B.C. remains traffic safety and harm reduction,” said Sgt. Rob Vermeulen, senior media relations officer with E Division.

“The B.C. RCMP will continue to concentrate our enforcement efforts in the area of reducing the number of people killed or injured on our roadways.”

Opposition to the higher speed limits comes from the  B.C. Trucking Association.

“When we surveyed our truck and motor coach members regarding the speed review, they indicated there was no appetite for higher speed limits,” said Louise Yako, BCTA president.

“Carrying freight or passengers from one place to another quickly is important, but getting them there safely is more important. For the road transportation industry, efficiency is about results, factoring in the safety of drivers and others, what they’re carrying, and their equipment.”

The Coquihalla Highway from Hope to the Highway 1 junction, near Kamloops, has gone from 110 to 120 kilometres an hour while the Okanagan Connector, from Merritt to Aspen Grove, has gone from 110 to 120 km/h.


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