Province discusses highway speeds at Cranbrook forum

The province is hoping to gauge motorists' feelings on whether rural highways have adequate speed limits in B.C.

The province is hoping to gauge motorists’ feelings on whether rural highways have adequate speed limits in B.C. So on Jan. 14, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, along with ICBC, met with residents of Cranbrook as part of an open house tour to collect input on the Rural Highway Safety and Speed Review. Representatives from the two provincial bodies were touring Kamloops, Kelowna, Prince George, Dawson Creek, Vancouver, Cranbrook, Nanaimo and Chilliwack as part of the information gathering effort.

Mike Lorimer, regional director for the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, said they have received some good feedback so far, especially online.

“Over 6,000 people have visited the website and we’ve had over 800 surveys completed online,” Lorimer said.

He said there hasn’t been a consensus in the surveys for what changes should be pursued, if any, with regards to speed limits.

“What we’re trying to do is get the right speed,” he said. “I think when they see that we’re taking the public input and matching it with the technical review that we’re doing, so there is a technical basis to it as well. I think it has helped to reassure folks that we are here to talk to people and to at the end of the day get the right speed.”

He said they are hearing that generally the speed limits are in the right area, with some people saying that in places they need to be higher and other places lower.

The open houses began at the start of December and will run until Jan. 16.

Feedback can also be submitted online through until Jan. 24 and other avenues such as social media.

The government is looking for public input in various aspects of highway safety, such as speed limits, slower moving vehicles, wildlife hazards and use of winter tires. The ministry is also undertaking technical work as a part of the review which will look at research from other jurisdictions and evaluate specific characteristics of highways in B.C. such as travel speed, safety history and the volume and mix of traffic.

Lorimer said they have to take into account wildlife, winter conditions and traffic.

“Is there a section of highway that has a lot of commercial vehicles? Because if it does there is no point in raising the speed limit.”

He said people seem to be wanting to see small adjustments rather than big changes – things like a 10 km/h increase or decrease rather than a jump to 130 km/h highways.

The last time a review was done was 2003. That report identified some areas where speed limits could be raised and others where they could be lowered.

The report provides information on our local rural highways as well. For instance, an average of 3,000 cars per day drive the 112 kilometre section between Cranbrook and Creston and 1.68 animals are killed per kilometre annually. The traffic is 19 per cent trucks.

The 146 kilometre section from Cranbrook to the Alberta border has 4,500 cars travel it on average per day and 1.86 animals are killed per kilometre annually. The traffic is 16 per cent trucks.