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NEWS/ BRIDGE — One day gone, about 179 to go. How was the first day of negotiating through reconstruction on the Overlander Bridge? Depends on how you look at it.
The contractor kindly waited until after the morning rush hour before closing down the southbound curbside lane, and traffic continued to flow fairly smoothly until mid-afternoon. Drivers leaving the downtown area and heading north felt the squeeze as traffic narrowed to a single lane on the Victoria Street West approach.
Southbound, traffic began stacking up at Leigh Road leading onto the bridge. Still, there were no lengthy delays. The City estimates that with a temporary 30 mph limit heading onto the bridge, drivers will have to cool their jets for an extra 48 seconds to make the crossing in normal conditions..
But as the drive-home rush hour got underway, things slowed down considerably. One tweet reported it took 15 minutes to move three blocks, another than an ambulance was crawling across the bridge, with an estimated crossing time of 20 minutes.
Many homeward-bound drivers did the smart thing and exited the downtown onto the Yellowhead Highway to avoid the Overlanders Bridge entirely. Instead of a quick detour, though, they ran into a lineup that stretched from the Husky station at the Halston Road interchange all the way past Sun Rivers and the Yellowhead Bridge up into the bypass.
But it wasn’t just the heavier than normal number of vehicles causing the problem — a multi-vehicle accident at the Halston-Yellowhead intersection at 4 p.m. couldn’t have come at a worse time. One driver reported it took almost 45 minutes to get from downtown to Westsyde via the Yellowhead and Halston.
For others, it was even worse. They shared their stories via the #kammute Twitter hashtag. Kristen Rodrique tweeted that it took her 80 minutes from ICBC to the North Shore, then seven minutes to home. Kevin Skrepnek reported a “smooth-as-silk start to #kammute season.” He drove from Aberdeen to the Kamloops airport via Halston, returning across the bridge.
“NO one is watching to see how traffic flows,” observed Mark McVittie. WHY is bridge down to ONE lane when NO ONE is working?”
Brendan Shaw tweeted, “It’s days like today that you really appreciate living downtown and being able to walk to work.”