A proposal to build a roundabout on Highway 5 at the junction with the road to Wells Gray Park did not seem to get much support during the first of two public information sessions held last Wednesday afternoon at Clearwater Secondary School.
Those attending a second session held that evening seemed to look more favorably on the idea, although there were still many questions raised.
A roundabout would address two objectives the highways department has for the intersection, said roads area manager Bart Chenuz.
Those objectives are controlling speeding and giving a better emphasis to the road to Wells Gray Park.
About 5,000 to 7,000 vehicles per day use Highway 5, he said. They do not have a firm number on how many turn off onto Clearwater Valley Road but the park gets over 100,000 visitors each year.
A roundabout would be safer than stoplights at the corner, he said.
People have a tendency to speed up to beat the light. They also tend to ignore the light if distracted.
The proposed design would accommodate the extraordinary large (up to 16 feet wide by 16 feet high) loads that sometimes use the highway.
Such loads typically travel between midnight and 5 a.m. and so most local residents are not even aware of them.
The longest loads permitted on the highway now are 18.3 m long. The roundabout would take loads up to 20 m long.
Construction would take about three months and would cost between $1.7 and $2.3 million.
Simply reducing the speed limit would not adequately address the speeding issue.
District program manager Shawn Clough said he had found 75 per cent of truckers going through the intersection were under the speed limit. Only 40 per cent of other vehicles were.
The highway is seeing a two per cent increase in traffic every year, said Clough.
If that trend continues, the present intersection design will become inadequate within five years, he said.
Regional project manager Dave Shibata felt many of those attending did not give truckers the credit they deserved.
“They’re used to roundabouts,” he said. “They go through plenty of them here and in the U.S.”
Shibata said they might also look at what can be done at the Clearwater Village Road intersection by Wells Gray Inn. That junction suffers from poor sight lines, he felt.
“This is an unfunded project,” the regional project manager said about the proposed roundabout. “If the community does not want it then it’s not going forward.”