Following the results of an independent third-party safety study and extensive community engagement, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure is moving forward on improvements to the Highway 97 and Stickle Road intersection north of Vernon.
“Public engagement is an important part of this process and my ministry would like to thank everyone who provided their input at the three open houses and through feedback forms,” said Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Todd Stone. “Given that many of the comments we received indicated a preference for a traffic signal to be installed, the ministry asked an independent road safety expert to compare the ministry’s design with a traffic signal. While both improvement options were considered, the report concluded that a traffic signal is not supported as it would further increase the risk of rear-end collisions and delay traffic.”
A summary report of the ministry’s public engagement is posted on the ministry’s website, and a link is provided below. The report concluded that the installation of a traffic signal on a roadway where the posted speed exceeds 64 km/hr can provide an overall 5% reduction in crashes, however the frequency of rear-end collisions can increase substantially. In comparison, the restricted movement configuration can result in an overall 20% reduction in crashes.
The ministry received approximately 150 comments through feedback forms, email and mail. Since 2013, the ministry has listened to the public to find the best solution to the safety challenges at Highway 97 and Stickle Road intersection. Consultations have taken place with the City of Vernon, the regional district, local stakeholders and with the public.
The ministry’s proposed design improves safety and access at this intersection of Highway 97 onto Stickle Road by extending left turn lanes, installing acceleration and deceleration lanes and removing the left turn onto the highway. As well, there will be a new road to connect the south end of the Stickle Frontage Road to the end of 20th Street in Vernon. These improvements will:
- Increase safety by reducing the number and severity of collisions at the intersection.
- Maintain the flow of traffic along Highway 97.
- Maintain access to Stickle Road for residents and businesses.
- Provide consistency with the longer term plans for this corridor.
The proposed safety improvements are estimated to cost approximately $9.5 million. The ministry has estimated that a traffic signal would have cost approximately $7.8 million.
As part of developing the design for the Stickle Road and Highway 97 Intersection Improvement Project, the ministry conducted geotechnical and environmental investigations to ensure environmental considerations are identified and that impacts are mitigated. The mitigation plan includes improving fish habitat, planting native riparian vegetation, removing invasive plant species and installing bird and bat nesting boxes. The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure is engaging with local environmental conservation groups to identify potential further improvements.
In addition, the ministry will be rebuilding portions of the existing BX Creek corridor trail that are impacted by the planned improvements, to ensure existing access to Swan Lake and BX Creek are maintained.
“Improving safety is our top priority for the Highway 97/Stickle Road intersection,” said Vernon-Monashee MLA Eric Foster. “The ministry’s design is the best option for protecting safety and it also will keep people and goods moving efficiently, so it’s important to construct this project for the benefit of local highway users and the travelling public at large.”
The ministry will work this fall to complete the detailed design for these improvements and anticipates tendering the project by early 2017.
To view the ministry’s project page, click here: http://ow.ly/QlQX305uBKE
To view the independent consultant’s report, click here: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/driving-and-transportation/transportation-infrastructure/projects/okanagan-valley-corridor/stickle/stickle-safety-review.pdf