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Update: Speed limit upped to 120 km/h on Okanagan Connector, Coquihalla

New speed limit sign for parts of the Coquihalla, Okanagan Connector - Submitted
New speed limit sign for parts of the Coquihalla, Okanagan Connector
— image credit: Submitted

Okanagan drivers will be able to legally shave time off their trips to the Lower Mainland, after the B.C. government announced it will raise the speed limits on some Southern Interior highways.

Transportation Minister Todd Stone said Wednesday a review of safety and speed limits on 9,100 kilometres of B.C.’s rural highways resulted in recommendations for faster travel on 1,300 km of those roads.

Most of the increased limits will be phased in over the summer, but some are effective immediately, including on the Okanagan Connector.

“This will bring the speed limit in line with actual travel speeds,” Stone told reporters.

“Experience for other speed changes undertaken by the ministry show that this will not mean everyone will automatically now drive 10 kilometres over the speed limit.”

Changes in this region include:

— Highway 3 Hope-Princeton: Limit raised from 80 or 90 to 100 km/h over a 33-km stretch from Sunshine Valley to the eastern boundary of Manning Park and on a 22-km section from Sunday Summit to Whipsaw Creek just south of Princeton.

— Highway 5 Coquihalla: Limit raised from 110 to 120 km/h over the entire 180 km between Kamloops and Hope.

— Highway 97C Okanagan Connector: Limit raised from from 100 to 110 km/h for 22 km between Merritt and Aspen Grove; and upped from 110 to 120 km/h for 78 km between Aspen Grove and Peachland.

Penticton RCMP spokesman Sgt. Rick Dellebuur said it would be inappropriate for police to comment on any change in law, including higher speed limits.

However, according to a B.C. government report that outlines public engagement efforts during the highway review process, the RCMP did not support increased speed limits due to safety concerns.

But local auto enthusiast Wayne Wood said modern cars should be capable of safely meeting the new limits.

“Vehicles today are far superior in their abilities compared to when roads were originally designed,” said Wood, who’s a member of several car clubs, but noted he was not speaking on their behalf.

“And if you travel on similar roads in the U.S., which we’ve done a lot, they seem to have very few problems at higher speed limits than currently in B.C., so I don’t see a problem,” he said.

Mike Palosky, transportation supervisor for Penticton-based Berry and Smith Trucking, also supported the speed increases.

“I think in some areas it’s warranted,” he said, adding the company does not, however, plan to immediately adjust the speed limiters on its trucks.

According to the public engagement report, 77 per cent of people consulted expressed support for a higher speed limit on Highway 97 between Kelowna and Osoyoos, but an increase was not recommended following an analysis that considered such factors as frequency of crashes and average speeds along the route.

The transportation minister also announced Wednesday plans to implement variable speed limits on some roads and introduce new regulations to recognize a wider range of tires for winter use and help police and the public deal with slow-moving vehicles.

*****

Posted: 11 a.m.

Motorists will be able to legally shave a few minutes off their trips to the Lower Mainland, after the B.C. government announced it will raise the speed limits on three Interior highways.

Transportation Minister Todd Stone said Wednesday a review of safety and speed limits on 9,100 kilometres of rural highway resulted in recommendations for faster travel on 1,300 kilometres of roadway.

Most of the increased limits will be phased in over the summer, but some are effective immediately, including on the Coquihalla Highway.

The changes “will bring the speed limit in line with actual travel speeds,” he told reporters.

Changes to Interior highways include:

— Highway 3 Hope-Princeton: Limit raised from 80 or 90 to 100 km/h over a 33-km stretch from Sunshine Valley to the eastern boundary of Manning Park and on a 22-km section from Sunday Summit to Whipsaw Creek just south of Princeton.

— Highway 97 Kelowna-Vernon: Limit raised from 90 to 100 km/h on a 16-km span  between Gatzke Road and College Way.

— Highway 97C Okanagan Connector: Limit raised from from 100 to 110 km/h for 22 km between Merritt and Aspen Grove; and upped from 110 to 120 km/h for 78 km between Aspen Grove and Peachland.

— Highway 5 Coquihalla: Limit raised from 110 to 120 km/h over the entire 180 km between Kamloops and Hope.

Stone also announced measures to recognize a wider range of tires as approved for winter use; help motorists deal with slow-moving vehicles; and prevent collisions with wildlife.

More to come.

 

 

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