George Zimmerman has heard the tires squealing, the metal on metal and the sirens.
A resident of Stickle Road since 1950, Zimmerman has had a ringside seat to numerous close calls and fatalities at the intersection with Highway 97.
“Any time you need entertainment for the afternoon, come and join me on my patio and hear the tires screeching and horns blaring,” he said.
So concerned about the situation, he launched a petition in 2006 and collected 1,363 names demanding action.
A decade later, Zimmerman insists the issue of Stickle Road continues to be ignored by the Ministry of Transportation.
“People were calling for a traffic light 10 years ago and that’s what I’d still like to see.”
Currently, the ministry is planning a ban on left-turns from Stickle Road on to the highway and a one-way extension of 20th Street into Vernon on the east side of Stickle Road.
For residents of the west side of Stickle Road, they would have to travel south into Vernon and loop through to 27th Street and Highway 97 so they can head north to Armstrong and Kamloops.
“Some of the higher-ups in the ministry have said a light will be needed eventually so why not do it now?” said Zimmerman.
Some ministry representatives have stated there aren’t enough left-turns on to the highway to warrant a signal, but Zimmerman believes those statistics are influenced by high traffic volumes on the highway and dangerous conditions.
“People sit there and sit there and then they back up out of frustration and go to Pleasant Valley Road. Pleasant Valley is not up to standard for a lot of traffic,” he said.
The proposed extension from Stickle Road to 20th Street will go along a portion of BX Creek and Zimmerman forecasts soil challenges.
“They had trouble when they put in the overpass. It’s swamp,” he said.
If the ministry’s current design moves ahead, it could take two years for the $9.5 million project to be constructed, with work starting as early as this fall.
Eric Foster, Vernon-Monashee MLA, has defended the ministry’s plan.
“We’ve addressed all of the things asked for by the businesses and residents which was safety,” he said in a recent interview.
“We have come a long ways from where the ministry started. I think people will be happy when it’s done.”