BEYOND THE HEADLINES: The Stickle run-around

Perhaps it’s time the Ministry of Transportation and elected officials listened to the public and businesses.

Huge holes are being punched through the Ministry of Transportation’s latest strategy for Stickle Road and Highway 97.

First off is the theory that motorists, including large transport trucks, will head south into Vernon from Stickle Road via a single-lane, one-way connector to 20th Street. And maybe they will, but what will they do once they are behind Rona?

The suggestion from the ministry and Vernon Mayor Akbal Mund is they will turn right on to 58th Avenue and head to 27th Street, and ultimately the highway. But anyone who drives 58th Avenue knows how congested it is, particularly in front of McDonald’s and Tim Hortons. Once at 27th Street, transport trucks will then have to make a left turn or go straight on to hectic Anderson Way, past the casino and Superstore, and then on to 48th Avenue to reach Highway 97. Talk about a round-about route.

Out of frustration, many will likely continue south along 20th Street, through a residential neighbourhood, and use 48th Avenue, which is also extremely busy.

The other criticism of the plan is it does nothing for the residents and RV park on the west side of Stickle Road, closest to Swan Lake.

If they want to head north to Armstrong or Kamloops, they will have to merge on to the highway and then head south into Vernon first. The expectation is they will use the 27th Street exit, and once at the lights, they will go right on to Anderson Way, along with those transport trucks coming off the 20th Street connector, and zip past the casino and down to 48th and the highway. It’s not extremely convenient and potentially dangerous for a large travel trailer.

The other issue is that traffic across the highway, from both sides of Stickle, would be blocked. That would directly hurt the bottom line at Squires Four Pub.

“The RV park across there is huge for me,” said owner Serry Massoud.

It’s possible even the most loyal customer may divert to easier to reach pubs in Vernon instead of backtracking around to Squires.

With residents and businesses in an uproar, the only real support for the ministry’s proposal has come from local politicians.

“This is a far better solution. It provides safe egress into the city,” said Bob Fleming, BX-Swan Lake director.

But when you consider that any southbound traffic from the east side of Stickle Road will be pushed into already busy residential and commercial areas in Vernon, or northbound traffic from the west side of Stickle will have to go south first and then loop around, is that actually safe?

There appears to be a far more significant potential for accidents in the urban maze than the fender-benders the ministry forecasts if vehicles on the highway stop for a light at Stickle.

One has to consider that many of the people calling for a traffic signal are successful entrepreneurs and not prone to hysterics and over-reaction. They make decisions that create efficiencies for their customers, employees and the bottom line.

Perhaps it’s time the ministry and elected officials at the provincial and local level actually listened to them.