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Speed limits decreasing on Sea to Sky Highway

Province rolls back posted limits by 10 km/h
not so fast The province announced this week that speed limits would decrease on 33 segments of highway across the province. file photo

Speed limits on the Sea to Sky Highway will decrease this month following a provincial study that found collisions have been on the rise for that stretch of road.

The Ministry of Transportation an Infrastructure (MOTI) announced on Tuesday, Nov. 6 that it would be rolling back posted limits by 10 kilometres an hour on over a dozen highway corridors across the province, including the Sea to Sky Highway.

"We know people want to get where they're going quickly. Our job is to help make sure they also get there safely," said transportation minister Claire Trevena in a release. "Since the former government raised speed limits in 2014, serious crashes have been on the rise. By rolling back speed limits slightly, our goal is to reduce accidents, keep roads open and protect the lives of British Columbians."

The announcement comes after a review of roughly three years worth of collision data on 33 segments and 1,300 kilometres of highway, where speed limits were increased as part of the 2014 Rural Safety and Speed Review. The analysis found that 15 sections of B.C. highway saw accidents rates go up in that period. A UBC study published last month showed that, since the new limits were implemented in 2014, crashes have increased by 20 per cent and deaths have risen by more than 100 per cent in those areas.

The new limits on the Sea to Sky Highway are as follows:

Horseshoe Bay to Squamish: 90 km/h to 80 km/h.

Squamish to Whistler: 100 km/h to 90 km/h.

Whistler to Pemberton: 90 km/h to 80 km/h.

A MOTI spokesperson said the new limits would go into effect as soon as new signage is erected, likely by the end of this week.

"From BC RCMP Traffic's perspective, we will continue to do what we have always done, enforce the posted speed limits, no matter what it is," read a statement from Cpl. Mike Halskov, spokesperson for the RCMP's E Division Traffic Services.

"I would urge motorists to obey speed limits no matter where they are travelling. Where collisions are concerned, lower speeds reduce the risk of being seriously injured or killed."

According to the most recent figures, the Sea to Sky Highway averages 72 serious collisions per year, with more than two of those usually fatal. More than 19,000 commuters a day travel on the roadway, a 24-per-cent increase in traffic since 2009. A $600-million upgrade to the highway in the lead-up to the 2010 Olympics has helped, reducing serious collisions by roughly 23 per cent, but many residents feel that it hasn't gone far enough, particularly in the winter months.

The MOTI introduced variable speed signage in 2016 to the highway between Function Junction and Squamish that changes enforced speed limits to reflect the current driving conditions, aimed at reducing the frequency and severity of weather-related crashes.

A ministry spokesperson confirmed to Pique that the MOTI "will be looking at additional road weather information systems for use outside of the sections that currently have Variable Speed Limit signs" on the Sea to Sky Highway.

"The information gathered by these systems will be shared with drivers on changeable digital message signs to provide the most up-to-date information possible, in order to improve safety during variable weather conditions."

Speed limits on routes that did not see an increase in collisions will remain the same, including for the Coquihalla and Highway 99 from Lillooet to Cache Creek.

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