Freda Bostrum received the kind of news that no one wants to hear.
“My daughter and her two young children were almost killed a few weeks ago,” she wrote to Salmon Arm council in September, explaining that her daughter Emily was stopped at the traffic light by KFC waiting to cross the Trans-Canada Highway.
“Had she not hesitated when the light turned green, they would have been hit by a truck speeding down the highway through the red light.”
Bostrum asked council: “When and what are we going to do before something like this incident creates deaths?”
Although council has been trying for several years to get the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to install red light cameras at downtown intersections, the request has been turned down. Salmon Arm is competing with intersections all over B.C., and those with the highest incidence of accidents tend to get the cameras.
However, Coun. Chad Eliason suggested a new tack – an “all-red” clearance interval, or a three-second delay after a light turns red before the light on the adjoining street turns green.
Murray Tekano with the ministry wrote an email to council on Oct. 15 stating that he had discussed the request with the regional traffic engineer.
“We support this request and plan to implement a fixed 3.0 second clearance interval at both the Ross and Alexander Street intersection on Highway 1.”
He stated the changes would essentially hold traffic in a stop condition on all approaches during the delay period.
Bostrum told the Observer the three-second delay is a start.
“I’m pleased that council took action and that the Ministry of Transportation was able to do something. First they said no and then they said yes… It’s a small victory – we still would all like cameras.”
She said her daughter’s near-miss reinforced the danger.
“It hit very close to home.”
In fact, a citizen was killed previously at the intersection of Alexander and the Trans-Canada when a semi drove through the red light.
At council’s Oct. 26 meeting, Coun. Tim Lavery congratulated Eliason for coming up with the idea.
Coun. Kevin Flynn added his approval, and said he would have lost a bet regarding the city getting the ministry’s approval for the change. He said he suspects the city’s chief administrative officer Carl Bannister would have lost that bet too.