(Video: Mel Rothenburger)
An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
WHEN RANKING THE MOST DANGEROUS driving experiences in Kamloops, the Vicars Road intersection has to be near the top.
I was in the neighbourhood the other day and stood for a few minutes watching what goes on there. It looks like a small version of one of those intersections in Beijing where drivers are lucky to escape with their lives.
Lineups extend in all directions. As the lights change, drivers gun it here and there, running a gauntlet among vehicles clogging the intersection.
As a feat of road engineering design, it’s a disaster. The frontage road was simply built too close to the highway. The risks rise exponentially year by year.
The problem has been recognized for more than 20 years but political will has been too weak to do anything about it.
A plan was devised in 1997 to upgrade the Trans Canada from Kamloops to the Alberta border. More than simply a convenience to motorists, it was to significantly enhance safety and speed of commercial traffic moving goods between here and our good friends in the province next door.
Kamloops presented (and still does) a significant barrier. One option was to extend the bypass past Valleyview below Juniper Heights. That didn’t fly because of opposition from residents who worried, among other things, about the deleterious impact on resident lichens.
Fixing the frontage road would have required purchase and removal of a number of buildings.
So, the Valleyview stretch was quietly dropped from the plan. Too many people saw the fix as worse than the problem. I wonder if they’d think the same today, but it doesn’t matter. It’s too late.
We’re stuck forever with the Vicars Road driving nightmare because nobody had the guts to fix it when there was the chance.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.