Residents living in and around Johnson Street in Williams Lake say they are upset with proposed improvements to Highway 97 that could see traffic exit off the highway and into their residential areas along McKinnon Road and Johnson Street.
“Johnson Street is residential and it should stay that way,” Johnson Street resident Gordon Stevenson said Tuesday.
Stevenson said residents don’t oppose a light-controlled intersection being installed at Highway 97 and Toop Road, but they don’t want to see the intersection being connected to Johnson Street.
If the latest proposed plan, unveiled at an open house held Aug. 28 at city hall, were to go ahead, it would “open up” the usually residential quiet Johnson Street to a substantially increased traffic flow, Stevenson said.
Stevenson and about 100 other residents attended the highway project development open house, many of them to voice their opposition to the plan.
They also suggested the intersection at Highway 97 and Carson Drive needs to be retained with lights, with the improvement of a left-turn advance green light.
If the lights are removed at Carson and Highway 97, it will only add to the number of accidents, Stevenson added.
“With all the people currently using this route to access the Williams Lake high school, the arena, and downtown, this is a planned disaster. There are already accidents at this intersection with the traffic lights now in place.”
Stevenson added Johnson Street already has enough traffic because people use it as a short cut.
“We were just told by someone at the hospital that people use the hospital as a short cut and go through the parking lot to Fourth Avenue.”
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure told the Tribune/Weekend Advisor Tuesday it will continue to work with the city to ensure the highway and municipal street connections are safe and effective for both traffic and residents.
“Feedback from the previous ministry open house in June confirmed that Toop Road and Highway 97 provides a better intersection for safety, mobility and grades for the approaches to the highway,” the ministry said in an e-mailed response.
“As the detailed design is completed we will undertake specific negotiation with individual property and business owners.”