Editor, The Times:
Re: Old North Thompson Highway/Highway 5 intersection at Wells Gray Inn
Time to stir up some dirt, or at least talk about it. This intersection is troublesome, confusing, and can be subject to unsafe turns and crossings. As traffic flow increases, safety decreases for both vehicles and pedestrians. I would like to suggest a solution that, in my opinion, warrants serious consideration at some time in the near future.
The crossing design that I suggest would be an underpass/overpass with Yellowhead Highway on the upper level. I have not walked the ground nor taken any grade levels, but it seems that there might be room to install such an intersection approximately 250 metres south of the current crossing at Wells Gray Inn. Engineering survey and analysis would determine the most viable location. The Highway 5 grade may have to be elevated slightly at the chosen point but could very likely be left at the present level by the Wells Gray Inn.
With this type of intersection in place the right turn lane (for southbound traffic accessing Dutch Lake area) could remain. The left bound lane (for south bound traffic accessing the Wells Gray Inn) may be adequate in the short term but could be routed via the right turn lane and the underpass if required. Access from Old North Thompson Highway onto Highway 5 would be permanently blocked at its present location.
Traffic wanting to cross Highway 5 from west to east at this point would be routed behind the little lunch cabin to the underpass and back onto the present road near the Inn. West bound crossers would do the reverse. This little intersection (by the Wells Gray Inn) would require some sort of control. Four-way stop signs would work here if the left bound lane, coming down the hill, is closed off. There are other options that could be investigated here.
Pedestrian and cycle traffic would have to be routed through the underpass in a design such as suggested. To complete a construction like this the Ministry of Highways may be required to purchase private land. To sum up, I would say that a roundabout or traffic lights would be a very poor choice because of the interruption to highway traffic flow. This would be especially negative in this location at the bottom of a hill.
Birch Island, B.C.