Olympic Transportation plans unveiled 

Highway checkpoint, permits part of plan

There will be a vehicle checkpoint on the highway to Whistler, no day-long parking in the resort, and over 300 buses travelling to and from Whistler everyday carrying Olympic spectators.

Those are just some of the highlights Olympic organizers revealed this week as Phase I of the $157 million 2010 transportation plan was unveiled.

Organizers split the plan into two parts to reflect the two hosts of the Games: Vancouver and Whistler.

Whistler is in a somewhat unusual position as there is really only one road in and out of town: The Sea to Sky Highway. And since there will be no day parking in the resort organizers have decided to set up a checkpoint, likely at Alice Lake, to stop people going to Whistler just for a look around.

Within Whistler, buses will be the advised mode of transport. There will be 135 buses in operation, up from the 39 that currently service Whistler, running 24 hours a day. The enhanced bus service includes new routes, more frequent service on existing routes, and 24-hour-a-day connections to both Pemberton and Squamish.

Meetings are underway with local businesses to discuss how the transportation plan will affect them. Olympic organizers hope deliveries can be made for the most part outside event peak hours, and the municipality is looking at relaxing its noise bylaw to help accommodate this and implementing a permitting system for delivery zones.

There will be additional enforcement of parking restrictions in Whistler, with more tow trucks standing by. A larger impound lot is also being discussed.

Residents who live in and around Olympic venues will receive permits for access and parking, including people in the Creekside area, Glacier Drive and Glacier Lane and the Timing Flats via Nordic Drive.

A permitting system is also being looked at to manage the town's short term parking so that residents can park to see a doctor and so on.

It is suggested that grocery shopping be done outside of Olympic peak hours. All shops, and Whistler's only gas station, will be accessible.

Details are still being worked out on how the highway checkpoint will operate, but it is likely to be in place from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. It will start up a few days before the Olympics begin on Feb. 12, 2010.

Enforcement officers will be checking to see if drivers have a legitimate place to go Whistler, as there will be absolutely no day parking in or near the resort. Locals may have to show their driver's licence with a local address, while non-Olympic accredited visitors will have to show hotel confirmations.

Organizers have suggested that anyone travelling to stay with friends in Whistler drive up after 4 p.m. to avoid the checkpoint.

In general peak time on the highway, which is open to all traffic during the Games, will be between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m.

There will be two lanes northbound in the morning from Horseshoe Bay to Whistler's southern most part, Function Junction. From there a temporary Olympic Lane, which will be constructed this summer, will carry designated traffic into town. Transit buses, Olympic accredited vehicles, delivery trucks, and other commercial vehicles will be allowed in this lane.

The other northbound lane will carry all other traffic.

The system will be reversed for load out.

A fleet of vehicles will be deployed along Highway 99 to ensure the road remains open. These include salting and snow clearing trucks, tow trucks, emergency response vehicles and police.

About 350 buses will carry Olympic spectators up and back from departure points in the Lower Mainland each day of the Games. All ticket holders for events in Whistler who are staying in Vancouver will be contacted by VANOC to advise them of how and when to purchase their bus tickets. The trip to Whistler from Vancouver will cost $25.

Buses within Whistler will run every five to 10 minutes at peak times and every 15 to 30 minutes during the late night hours. There will also be several new neighbourhood routes, including Millar's Pond, Kadenwood, Nordic Drive, Gondola Way, Whistler Cay and Nicklaus North.

On competition days there will be extra transit service to Whistler Creekside and the Whistler Sliding Centre so residents and spectators can easily get to events.

It is expected that transit fares will stay the same, $2 per ride. For February 2010 a monthly souvenir pass will be available for less than a regular pass would cost.

Taxi service in Whistler is not expected to be increased, as the extra buses should provide a fast enough service to users. Hours of service for February are expected to rise to 55,000 from 7,500.

As well as taking the bus organizers would like to see people walk or cross-country ski the Valley Trail system. There will be enhanced clearing and track setting to encourage this.


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