It's time for highway barriers
I would respectfully ask that (the Ministry of Transportation) investigate the incidents that have occurred on the Deeks Creek/Logger's Creek section of Highway 99/Sea to Sky this past year.
The two recent incidents are the motorcycle incident that occurred September 9 and the most recent on November 23. Both involved vehicles crossing the centre line. In the case of the September 9 incident, the most seriously injured person was in the lane that a motorcyclist veered into.
We all appreciate the sections that were upgraded with extra lanes and physical barriers between the different directions of traffic; however, there are still areas that require this physical separation.
The price paid is too great for mistakes that could have been mitigated by a separated highway.
This section of highway had an acknowledgement of higher risk prior to the highway upgrade. The posted speed limit was 60 km/h for the few hundred metres it took to traverse these tight corners.
While some of the most ambitious work to the highway was done just north and south of this section, the problem solving stopped just short and stranded the undivided and curvy Deeks Creek/Logger's Creek section.
Road Safety in Canada (2011) cites lane separation (Road Infrastructure and Traffic Engineering) as one of the biggest contributors to the reduction of head on collisions. In 2008 Canada ranked 10th out of 13 OECD countries in traffic fatalities.
How do the fatality and injury statistics on the Sea to Sky Highway compare pre-2010 upgrades and post upgrades? How many fatalities occurred on the separated sections after the upgrades?
Ontario highways have barriers that do not require the road width that concrete barriers do, have good sight lines and do not impede snow clearing. The MOT made public presentations in Whistler prior to the Sea to Sky Highway upgrades that portrayed lane separation in a very unrealistic manner. Clearly there was not the appetite to create a consistent division between the north and southbound lanes. It is time to review areas that have higher occurrences of traffic accidents.
Given the sub-zero temperatures in this area for the evenings previous to this incident, and the proximity of the highway to moist marine air, was "black ice" a factor? Were salt and or gravel applied that morning?
We can only speculate what caused the car to cross the centre line November 23.
Whistler is an international resort and we have many people driving Highway 99 for the first time with little or no mountain and winter driving experience. Furthermore, car rental companies do not supply winter tires and many Lower Mainland drivers do not use winter tires.
Also, while we sympathize with the people involved, their families and the first responders, having this vital link closed for 10 hours wreaks havoc in thousands of lives. On the highway people are trapped in their cars, unable to turn around. Infants to elders potentially without food, water, bathrooms and if their fuel runs out, no heat.
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