A senior Ministry of Transportation official suggests public furor won’t overturn plans for a Vernon area intersection.
Murray Tekano, senior project director, was asked if the ministry would reverse its opposition to a traffic signal at Stickle Road and Highway 97 if that’s what most residents and businesses want.
“We’ve been explaining why a signal won’t work. It’s something we can’t do,” he told the media during an open house at the Prestige Hotel Wednesday.
“It’s not a good location for a signal.”
Tekano says a light could delay traffic flow, lengthen vehicle queues and lead to accidents.
Many residents at the session were not impressed with the ministry’s presentation.
“They’re just not listening,” said Peggy Olson.
“They have their minds made up and have the statistics to support it,” added Floyd Olson.
Resident Hans Mueller was more blunt.
“They’re a bunch of knuckleheads. Put in a traffic light and be done with it.”
The ministry is proposing a protected T intersection to allow for left-turns from Stickle Road on to the highway towards Vernon. There would be a separate left turn with turn-around access for the Silver Star RV Park area and the ministry would eliminate highway cross-movements and left-hand turns from the RV park.
Anyone turning left from Stickle on to the highway would not be able to use the 27th Street exit.
“I’m frustrated. This is sillier than the first one (proposal for no left turns),” said resident Dan Tischenko.
“They keep saying safety but they’re not listening to people.”
Barb Haselhorst lives on Stickle Road and she blasted ministry staff.
“This is absolutely stupid. Why spend that money when a light will do?” she said.
The ministry’s plan would cost about $8 to $9 million to construct while a traffic signal would be about $5 to $6 million.
But beyond a traffic signal, some at the open house lobbied for a roundabout.
“Go to Europe or the highway between Linden and Bellingham, Wash. and it has four or five roundabouts,” said resident Bjorn Meyer.
There were also calls for a slower speed on the highway but Tekano says that’s not feasible.
“We think it would increase the possibility of folks driving aggressively,” he said, adding that it’s necessary to block off the 27th Street exit to anyone making left turns from Stickle Road because of the length of the acceleration lane entering the highway.
“People will be trying to merge too soon.”
Tekano admits there is opposition to the current plan but he insists the ministry is serious about safety.
“We know we have to make improvements and try to meet the needs of people.”