Penticton MLA Dan Ashton urged the provincial government to address ongoing safety concerns on Highway 97 during a debate at the legislative assembly on Feb. 18.
He said concrete barriers should be placed between opposing lanes of traffic on Highway 97 from Summerland to Peachland.
His request follows a fatal accident on Jan. 26 after a southbound vehicle lost control on the highway and entered the northbound lanes, where it was hit by a transport truck. A passenger in the car was killed.
Ashton described the stretch of highway as one of the most beautiful drives in the province, but added it can have a dark side.
“During the winter months as the snow drifts and covers the roads and visibility can drop to zero quite often, the same stretch becomes treacherous and in some cases deadly,” he said to the assembly.
He said collisions on this stretch seem to happen, “way too frequently.”
“The reality is that people are being injured and lives are being lost on this stretch of highway and something needs to be done,” continued Ashton. “Specifically installing concrete divider barriers to help protect from the very tragedy again that happened in January.”
Ashton added that the new four-lane highway is much safer than the original two-lane roadway, however, due to changing climatic conditions, higher speeds and driver neglect, crossover accidents are occurring more frequently.
In January an online petition was created to urge the government to install safety barriers on Hwy 97. As of Wednesday morning the petition had garnered over 26,600 signatures.
The MLA urged members of the assembly to review the online petition and read comments left by those affected by this stretch of highway.
“Nothing I can say can portray the anguish and pain that they have experienced, but I can ask on their behalf for immediate consideration by government and the ministry to initiate the placement of concrete barriers wherever possible between the opposing lanes on this stretch of highway,” he said.