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EDITORIAL – Vicars Road intersection nightmare will be with us forever

(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 mrothenburger@armchairmayor.ca.

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About Mel Rothenburger (6879 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

6 Comments on EDITORIAL – Vicars Road intersection nightmare will be with us forever

  1. tony brumell // May 28, 2019 at 11:25 PM // Reply

    Not quite . The elevated two level hwy was actually Krugers’ idea. Mine was simpler and far cheaper.It could be done in separate smaller projects instead of a multi/multi million dollar mega project.Things have changed and some of the parameters are different but the plan is still largely viable.

    • Dave Monsees // May 29, 2019 at 10:17 AM // Reply

      If you synchronized the lights, there would be no problem. Lights on the frontage road and on Vicars would have to go green in both directions…first to allow Vicars to move, and then to allow the frontage to move, for short period while the highway lights stayed green for the Vicars traffic to enter onto the highway. Yes, the wait on the high way with a red light for through traffic would be a little longer, but so what, if it solves the accident problem…

  2. Tony Brumell // May 28, 2019 at 1:10 PM // Reply

    Mel !! You should remember back when you were Mayor .I prposed a viable plan for the entire vv corridore. You liked it at the time and It made headlines in the Daily. The plan is still viable and the bypass is not and never was.
    Jack Stumple wanted to confiscate ONLY 36 homes and spend $ 200,000,00 on a monstrous destructive bypass. No buisnesses or Truckers wanted this to say nothing of the home owners. .My plan destroyed nothing but the dept of Hwys belittled everything I did. My plan eliminated the lights and allowed better through flow for the frontage road while making things much safer.
    Two different engineering firms approved of it but would not come forward for fear of losing contracts from the province.

  3. Dave Monsees // May 28, 2019 at 6:49 AM // Reply

    I dont think it’s a difficult fix at all. Another set if traffic lights controlling the frontage road traffic and integrating it with the lights on the highway and Vicar and it’s all fine.. The problem with the intersection is there is nothing there to tell the drivers what to do and who should go first. If the two sets if lights were synchronized it would not be a problem.

    • The problem with that is the frontage rd is way too close to have lights there and the highway, there’s no stopping room in-between.

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