Transportation remains key piece of Olympic puzzle 

The last year has marked some major milestones for the organizers of the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Tickets went on sale, the Torch Relay route was revealed, the venues are finished, with some even hosting test events.

But several key pieces of information are still missing including the transportation plan and the cost of security.

The transportation plan was originally to be released in January 2008. But it was delayed to early 2009 and will now be released in late February early March of ’09 Maureen Douglas, a director of communications for the 2010 Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC), said recently.

“Transportation does continue to be something of keen interest and definitely one of the more challenging areas of planning around the Games and we will be back with much more information in February and March,” she said during a keynote address to a Whistler Chamber of Commerce luncheon this month.

“…We will be back one more time as (the Ministry of Transportation) finish(es) up some of the modeling (it) wants to do to make (its) absolutely final decisions around Sea to Sky.”

Douglas confirmed that access to the Husky gas station would be maintained throughout the Games.

But she did say there would likely be some disruptions and road closures.

“There is potential for some road closures and some re-direction around Creekside and we will be sharing all that information,” she said.

“We still want to see major flow move through the village but during load-in there may be some temporary re-direction.

“We are looking at the possibility of some minor restrictions on load-in, in the mornings, coming in to the Games when there are a number of (spectators for) events coming up from Vancouver so it will affect more (transportation north), not so much south.”

She reiterated that there will be significantly more public transportation throughout the Sea to Sky corridor and it is VANOC’s hope that people will take the bus and not drive their vehicles, especially as there will be virtually no public parking in Whistler.

VANOC is also working with the Ministry of Transportation and the RCMP-led Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit (VISU) on how the Sea to Sky highway will be managed.

“…It is a very integrated system… so the accident response is immediate,” said Douglas.

“If there are any challenges on the Sea to Sky they are cleared immediately, (there will be) enhanced snow clearing, all the things you would expect to make sure that everybody can flow very easily.”

VANOC is also working with the municipality, Whistler Blackcomb, and Tourism Whistler to roll out a marketing program for 2009 to encourage people to come and see the many test events that will be held here this winter.

“…All of us are developing co-operative marketing here in the resort to really give 2009 a huge push.” said Douglas.

“We want to see audiences in those venues, we want to see people staying in beds in Whistler.”

The alpine and Nordic test events will be free and the sliding sports will cost $5 a ticket.

It is expected that 55,000 recreational skiers will use the Nordic facilities at Whistler Olympic Park this year. Last season there were 32,000 recreational visits.

The Whistler Sliding Centre will also be busy. Canadian sliders have already logged 3,400 practice runs.

Government Services Integration staff are also working in Whistler to hear from businesses and others on what the resort will look like at Games time.

They are working on a Master Plan map, which will show everything at Games time, from parking barricades to tents, said Douglas.

An updated VANOC Game Plan public meeting will be held in the spring.

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