Signs requiring drivers to slow down from 90 to 50 km/h when children are on the highway are now north and south of the Highway 97B/10th Avenue SE intersection. (Lachlan Labere/Salmon Arm Observer)

Temporary measures for hazardous Highway 97B intersection

Salmon Arm council awaiting report from province on long-term solution

Temporary measures are appreciated as city council waits for a long-term fix from the province for the intersection of Highway 97B and 10th Avenue SE.

Salmon Arm’s mayor and council had an opportunity to meet with BC Highways and Transportation Minister Claire Trevena in September at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention. The local delegation used this opportunity to discuss the status of the Salmon Arm West project (including the replacement of the Salmon River Bridge), as well as safety concerns regarding the 97B/10th Avenue SE intersection and the opening of the nearby South Canoe Outdoor Learning School.

This meeting occurred subsequent to the city sending the ministry a letter regarding the intersection, asking for the installation of pedestrian activated flashing lights as well as the creation of a 70 km/h speed limit zone.

During their Oct. 22 meeting, council received a follow-up letter from the minister in which she thanks council for sharing their concerns but offers nothing in the way of an update.

Related: School reopening prompts request for crossing signal at Highway 97B intersection

Asked if staff had received anything new regarding the Salmon Arm West/Trans-Canada Highway project, city engineering and public works director Rob Niewenhuizen said he’d been in contact with the ministry and the contract for pre-loading is up for bid.

“He’s going to contact me as soon as the tender closes and give me sort of an overview of what the results are,” said Niewenhuizen. “That doesn’t mean it will be awarded right away but the anticipation is that they will get started on that.”

As for the intersection, Niewenhuizen didn’t have an update, but Mayor Nancy Cooper did. She said she’d received a call from a concerned resident regarding an incident that occurred at the intersection that involved a child. Cooper said she then contacted the ministry, the RCMP and Shuswap MLA Greg Kyllo.

“Mr. Kyllo phoned me and said he had talked to them down there and they were going to put in a speed reader board, a temporary solution that will slow traffic down,” said Cooper. “Some more school signs and a temporary reader board, which they did.”

Council was grateful for the temporary measures, but recognized they were just that.

“The sign is a good first step but I really think an RCMP blitz, part of an education (campaign) there is important and I think the school district has to be involved in some way as well,” said Coun. Ken Jamieson. “Because, if I’m not mistaken, few if any children are being bused to that school, they’re all being driven by parents so that’s increased the traffic there considerably.”

Related: UPDATE: Crash at Highway 97B near Salmon Arm sends occupants to hospital

Coun. Chad Eliason recommended council just sit and wait until the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure’s engineers complete their report on the intersection which he said began in September.

“If we agree with it, and it’s a major improvement like Coun. Jamieson said, then it’s time to buck up and pay for our share possibly for that along with the ministries of education and transportation,” said Eliason. “If their suggestions aren’t what we think is enough, then it’s time for us to raise a stink and take that out and say this isn’t acceptable.

“We’ve done, I think, a really good job up to this point, and as soon as we hear back about the report with the recommendations, that’s when we get to go to that next level.”

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