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Road woes continue for RDOS

Nineteen collisions were recorded in eight years at a notorious intersection near Okanagan Falls, but the B.C. government has no immediate plans to fix it.

Murray Tekano, district manager for the Transportation Ministry, discussed that and other local road issues during an appearance at Thursday’s Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen board meeting.

Tekano provided figures for 2003 to 2011 that showed 20 people were injured in 19 collisions at the junction of Green Lake Road and Highway 97 at the edge of Okanagan Falls.

The number of collisions decreased from five in 2009 to three in 2010 and one in 2011. This year’s figures weren’t available. Since 2003, however, no fatalities have been recorded at that spot.

“For this particular intersection, unfortunately, yes, it has poor alignment but (the accident rate) is actually quite light,” Tekano said.

“What you’re saying though, Murray, is not enough people have been killed to justify an additional lane on the bridge,” said Tom Siddon, the rural RDOS director for the area.

Tekano did not respond directly to Siddon’s statement, but said he would have staff take a closer look at the trouble spot.

Siddon also noted that the son of a pedestrian killed last summer while crossing Highway 97 at Willow Street in Okanagan Falls had offered $20,000 for traffic improvements nearby that could include a crosswalk, turning lane, signals or even a roundabout at the intersection where Highway 97 turns south.

Nothing like that is in the ministry’s 10-year capital plan, though.

“We don’t have any plans at this point to move forward on any major projects in the Okanagan Falls area of that nature,” Tekano said.

Traffic volume through the area has remained stable for the past decade, he noted, averaging about 8,500 vehicles per day during the summer months and 6,300 per day the rest of the year.

Just outside of Okanagan Falls, behind-the-scenes work continues on the planned widening of a 1.5-kilometre stretch of Eastside Road. Tekano said the blasting work has gone to tender, the new road grade is expected to be finished by March 2013 and paving completed late next spring.

Meanwhile, rural Osoyoos director Allan Patton wanted to know why the speed limit on the new passing lanes north of Osoyoos is set at 80 km/h.

“Police love it because they sit at the end waiting for everybody,” Patton said.

“It should be 100 km/h there so people can actually pass. Legally.”

Tekano said the speed limit there “is probably a function of intersection locations.”

Finally, Oliver Mayor Ron Hovanes asked why the highways south of the Canada-U.S. border seem to consistently be in better shape, with wider shoulders and fewer patch jobs.

“I can’t explain it,” Tekano said, “except to say they have more money than we do.”

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