$11 million in transportation improvements recommended 

Municipal staff have come up with a number of ways to reduce or alleviate traffic congestion in Whistler, providing there is provincial money available.

Among the key recommendations of the $100,000 Transportation Planning Study are building an 800-car parking lot at Function Junction to prevent people driving into Whistler and improving intersections and optimizing road signals along Highway 99.

The study, which was funded by the Ministry of Transportation, found that the current traffic problems are only going to get worse by 2020 if steps aren’t taken in the near future.

If no improvements are made to the highway between Function Junction and Emerald Estates the number of cars on the road on an average day will increase of 2,000. That means it will take 21 minutes to get from the day lots to Function Junction, as opposed to today’s average time of 14 minutes.

It also means that travel speed will be reduced from 60 kilometres per hour to 38 km/h and the air quality will decrease by 30 per cent, depending on the pollutant measured.

Ultimately the guest experience will also go downhill.

And so, to fix the growing problem, Whistler staff has come up with a number of recommendations. They include:

• reducing the number of resident employee private auto trips by 50 per cent by using various transit demand management programs;

• develop a day skier parking lot along Cheakamus Lake Road near Function Junction in conjunction with Whistler-Blackcomb and the Ministry of Transportation. In addition to the lot there would be shuttle/transit buses and possibly a ski lift from the south accessing Whistler Mountain;

• improving intersections to allow for more left turn capacity and safety and,

• correcting gaps in the Valley Trail system and widening bike lanes on the highway.

The estimated cost of all the recommendations is $11.2 million.

Most of the recommendations require funding and implementation by the Ministry of Transportation but there are parallel projects, such as the athletes village and other legacies, which could work congruently with the highway work.

In the meantime municipal staff will engage ministry staff in negotiations on how best to prioritize, fund and implement the recommendations.

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