The roundabout idea has merit but it needs more work. The Ministry of Transportation should collaborate with District of Clearwater to develop a long-term highway access plan for the community.
To say that an open house held Mar. 7 had a mixed response would be an understatement. The open house was put on by the municipality to discuss a roundabout proposed by Highways for the junction of Highway 5 and the road to Wells Gray Park.
An online poll conducted by the Times since then showed 11 in favor and 10opposed to the idea. That’s hardly a statistically significant sample but it’s probably indicative of what the community is thinking – some say yes, some no, and a great many still undecided.
A few of those opposed to the idea seem to base their opposition entirely on the fact that they don’t like change. While we might sympathize with their approach, there isn’t much we can do about it. Change will come, like it or not.
A more legitimate objection to the roundabout would be the question of whether the proposed site is appropriate. Roundabouts only work safely if traffic speeds are reduced significantly (the proposed plan would be for less than 30 km/hr). Is it legitimate to reduce speeds by that much on a major through highway?
Another question has to be why a roundabout at the Infocenter junction and not the corner by Wells Gray Inn?
This is where an overall highway access plan would come in.
Too often in Clearwater’s past, individuals or organizations would go off and do whatever they felt best, without giving any real consideration to what might be best for the community as a whole.
While there are legitimate questions that need to be answered about the roundabout proposal, there are also several positive aspects.
A roundabout is a good way to reduce traffic speeds, particularly near schools. It is safer than any other intersection design for both motorists and pedestrians.
It would highlight the road to Wells Gray Park and Clearwater’s role as the gateway to the park.
Although there are roundabouts on major highways in other jurisdictions, this would be one of the first, if not the first, in B.C. People would notice and, if the roundabout were designed and landscaped correctly, the overall impression would be of a forward-thinking, progressive town.