Residents call for independent study on Highway 97 North intersections

Lakecity residents are calling for an independent study on proposed upgrades at the Toop Road and Carson Drive/Highways 97 intersections.

City council should hire an independent traffic engineer to analyze traffic patterns before making any final decisions for upgrades at the Toop Road and Carson Drive Highway 97 intersections in Williams Lake.

That’s the message a local residents’ group brought to city council at its committee of the whole meeting Tuesday.

“We consulted a lawyer and he suggested a professional traffic engineer should be involved,” Ninth Avenue resident John Moon said.

“We also spoke with a traffic engineer and traffic analyst from Vancouver. These two people already have first-hand knowledge of the two intersections.”

Moon said local residents are not against the highway project or resisting change, as some people have suggested.

“Of course people who live in the neighbourhood have concerns. That’s what a community is all about.”

The changes, however, will affect all residents of the city, he added.

Shel Myers has lived near Johnson Street and Western Avenue most of his life and said he’s calculated on average three near-misses a year at that intersection.

Myers said traffic has increased in the area since the schools were re-configurated.

“I am deeply concerned about this project and cannot standby and watch council make a bad decision,” Myers said.

“You need to collect relevant and meaningful data. Here’s your chance to make a good decision.”

Between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. one afternoon, Johnson Street resident Gordon Stevenson said he counted 191 vehicles exit Carson Drive onto the highway.

“Taking the lights out there would be a disaster,” Stevenson said, adding that any redesign of the intersections needs to consider improvements for the next 25 years.

Coun. Surinderpal Rathor asked the group if the city hired an independent traffic engineer, would the group accept his or her recommendations and Moon said “yes.”

While Coun. Ivan Bonnell said he believed the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure would have done extensive traffic count data in order to come up with its designs.

At the Dec. 17 regular meeting, council will receive a report from staff about the Highway project.

“It will be up to council to make a decision based on the report, as well as the public meetings and the contents of tonight’s presentation,” the city’s CAO Darrell Garceau said.

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