B.C. Liberals seek input on highway review

British Columbians have say in rural highway safety and speed limits

Folks can have their say on highway safety and speed limits in British Columbia, as the public consultation component of the Rural Highway Safety and Speed Review gets underway.

Until Jan. 24, 2014, the B.C. Liberal government is conducting province-wide consultation to seek input about safety and speed limits on B.C.’s rural highways. Through a series of open houses and online engagement, British Columbians can have their say on safety issues facing drivers on these highways.

Speed limits on longer stretches of rural highways between communities are being reviewed to ensure that appropriate speed limits are in place to encourage safe driver behaviour. At the same time, the public will be asked to provide input related to reducing the risk of wildlife-related crashes and improving the safe and efficient movement of slower vehicles.

Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett says speed limits may decrease in some areas, and increase along other lengths of highway, depending on the specific results of the review.

Speed limits on Highway 97 – where it runs through 100 Mile House, Clinton and Lac la Hache – will not be affected, Barnett explains.

“This will not be affecting [highways] inside municipal boundaries.”

Asked if she thinks speed limits need to rise anywhere, Barnett refers to requests she’s received from her constituents.

“I’ve had e-mails, prior to this even coming out, asking for an increase in speed limits on many of the provincial highways.

“But, the public is going to get their chance to give their input. They can send it to the website [once it is online] but if they wish to send it to my office, I am more than happy to send it on to the ministry.”

This review will also include public consultation on the use of winter tires in an effort to ensure tire requirements address safety and reflect current technology.

Public input will form a part of the Rural Highway Safety and Speed Review and will be considered in conjunction with the technical review, which is already underway. There will also be a technical review of new technology, highway design and similar initiatives in other jurisdictions.

Wildlife corridors are another big issue, Barnett says, and drivers need to slow down where there are road signs warning of wildlife, or they can see animals are in the area.

“It was so sad. [During one trip] I saw five dead deer between here and Williams Lake.”

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure will also be seeking input from ICBC, police, the Union of B.C. Municipalities, as well as other key stakeholders. Practical recommendations from this review and a strategy for implementation will be ready in early spring 2014.

British Columbians can get more information on the review and share feedback online at www.gov.bc.ca/safetyandspeedreview/.

From 7 to 8 p.m. on Dec. 17, Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Todd Stone will host a Twitter town hall to have a discussion on speed limits and other issues affecting highway safety. Join the conversation and follow #BCSpeedReview on Twitter.

The closest regional public forums will be held at the Coast Kamloops Hotel and Conference Centre, 1250 Rogers Way, on Dec. 3 from 5 to 8 p.m., or at the Prince George Ramada, 444 George St., on Jan. 7, 2014 from 5 to 8 p.m.

To learn more about the Rural Highway Safety and Speed Review and to provide your feedback, to

www.gov.bc.ca/safetyandspeedreview/.

With files from Carole Rooney.