Highway 33's turn for money

Following a series of accidents on Highway 33 in recent days – including a fatality – one has to wonder when the busy ribbon of blacktop will receive the same attention Westside Road has from the provincial government.

Since Premier Christy Clark became MLA for Westside-Kelowna, money has been practically thrown at Westside Road. The province has invested more than $55 million into safety upgrades since 2008 – like widening, paved shoulders, concrete barriers and rockfall protection measures.

The latest improvements were announced as recently as October.

Not that they aren’t needed.

BCAA surveys have routinely shown it to be one of the worst roads in the province.

But all that really means is Westsiders were the most prolific online voters in the poll. Good on them for gaining the ear of the premier and getting the work done.

Now it’s Highway 33’s turn.

As local police noted this week, no road is a killer. It’s the drivers who make any road dangerous.

But consider Ministry of Transportation statistics which show peak volumes of up to 1,200 vehicles an hour on Highway 33. That’s far more than traverse Westside Road on any given day.

Residents of the Joe Rich area say they drive in fear during the afternoon rush hour when winter traffic is coming down from Big White. Some say it’s not unusual to see lineups of 100 cars backed up when someone is attempting to turn left. That’s just a recipe for road rage – and more collisions.

There are no passing lanes between Black Mountain and the turn off to Big White, and the shoulder space on each side is minimal at best. As with Westside Road, there are steep drop-offs and tight turns.

Despite resident concerns, the province raised the speed limit on Highway 33 to 100 km/h, a speed one might more reasonably expect on a four-lane highway. Westside Road, meanwhile, varies from 30 to 80 km/h.

Clearly, it’s time Highway 33 got some attention.

And Castanet readers agree. Our recent poll asking if the province has done enough to improve safety there saw 808 No votes and just 254 who said Yes.

— News Director Jon Manchester


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