The Carson, Toop debate

Amidst proposed changes to the Carson and Toop intersections there seems to be one thing lost in all the hoopla.

After attending the public engagement session on proposed changes to the Carson and Toop intersections Tuesday evening, there seems to be one thing lost in all the hoopla.

The fact is, Williams Lake is set to receive a $20-million plus reno to our local infrastructure on the province’s tab.

The Carson to Fox Mountain improvement project is phase two of Christy Clark’s multiple-phase plan to twin 440 kilometres of new road between Cache Creek and Prince George.

According to Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure staff, the 1.5 kilometre section of road from the Carson intersection to the Fox Mountain turn-off in question got the ministry’s attention due to safety issues surrounding the intersections that have amounted to two fatalities, 27 injuries and 43 damage to property incidents between 2003 and 2012.

Project manager Lisa Miller said the speed change on the highway and too little space between the Toop and Carson intersections are partly to blame for the issues.

She said that a revision of the section of road has been on the books since as early as 1996, and in recent years the ministry has studied and restudied the area to come up with the best possible solution that will put our fair city in good stead for the next 25 years or more.

That solution, according to reams of studies and expert opinions, would see the lights moved to Toop from Carson with improved access to Toop residential, greatly increasing safety for drivers trying to cross the highway. It would also provide better access for the new businesses anticipated on the frontage road along Highway 97.

What has caused the greatest uproar among residents has been a suggestion by the ministry and city to open up access further to city streets by connecting Johnson Street to the intersection.

These two government bodies would be neglecting their duties not to suggest the Johnson Street access.

It only makes sense going forward into the future.

Paramedic Steve Rupp said it best – we’re all going to be clients of his at some point in our lives and if we are not breathing, we’ll want the most direct route possible to the ER.

Johnson Street is a lovely residential area and in all likelihood will remain that way, and perhaps will be even safer, once the improvements are complete.

Whichever option the city chooses, it needs to be one that benefits the entire city, not just a few residents in one residential area.