The RBC GranFondo Whistler will cause traffic disruptions from the start line in Vancouver to the finish in Whistler, but organizers have lightened the burden on Squamish.
According to news reports, organizers have cut the three-hour closure in Squamish from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. on race day to 8:45 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. There will be delays from 8:30 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. and from 10:45 a.m. to 11 a.m. As well, there could be intermittent delays until noon.
They've also moved the aid station from Brennan Park to the chain-up area at Alice Lake to keep riders moving through town.
The announcement came as a result of several complaints from residents of the community, as well as appeals by District of Squamish councillors on behalf of residents. The concern is that the road closure, which blocks east-west highway crossings at every intersection, will disrupt the daily lives of Squamish residents and block access to facilities, as well as impact events like the Brackendale Fall Fair.
Some 7,000 riders will be making the 120km trip from Vancouver to Whistler this year, 2,500 more than during the inaugural race and ride in 2010.
Organizers are apologetic for the disruptions.
"The plan in 2010 allowed for crossing 'when gaps in riders permitted,'" said organizers in a statement. "The reality on event day, however, saw very few gaps, which resulted in very few motorists getting through. People who thought they had a hope of getting onto the highway were stuck."
Stopping the riders to allow traffic through would create a backup they said, and "would create a full day of traffic delays in Squamish instead of two hours."
The organizers are asking Squamish locals to plan ahead for the closure.
Despite moving the aid station to Alice Lake, organizers will continue to send riders down Loggers Lane to maintain highway access to Brennan Park from the west side of the highway. As a result the underpass at Centennial Way - the only underpass on Highway 99 - will only be open to southbound vehicle traffic.
Squamish locals have called on organizers to reroute the race through Squamish neighbourhoods to reduce the impact on highway travel, or to reduce the number of riders to create more gaps in the field. As well, some suggested that the riders should be made to stop at lights like other vehicles, which would allow east-west highway crossings throughout the district.
For Whistler there will be disruptions during the race. Riders will be in the northbound lane, but another temporary lane will be created for the race. In the meantime, residents are being asked to use Alta Lake Road to bypass the race route and access the village.
There will be delays at intersections for residents on the east side of the highway, and only a few closures - Blackcomb Way will be closed from Lorimer Road to Village Gate Boulevard from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., as well as a section of Village Gate east of Northlands Boulevard. Lot 4 will be closed, as well as the north entrance to the parking lots. To reach the lots, drivers will have to drive to Lorimer, down Lorimer to Blackcomb Way and back on Blackcomb Way to the main entrance.
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