Highway Safety Ignored on Squamish Intersections

 By Drew Copeland and Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: Oct 11, 2014

Ministry of Transportation proudly says it spent $795 million on Highway 99 to make it the safest highway in the province. That may well be true if the ministry is willing to ignore an ICBC report from 2002 whose recommendations have still not been implemented.

“A drive-through review conducted in the course of the study indicated that many of the issues identified in that report (2002) prevail today.” District of Squamish report

ICBC prepared the report in 2002, but a review by the district three years ago stated that several key issues still remain. 

The 2002 report made several recommendations: Improve delineation and signing of right-turn acceleration lanes, change warning flashers, enforce speed and upgrade pavement markings.

For Highway 99 and Cleveland, the 2002 report found advanced warning flashers above the right turn lane reduced clarity for those in the through lane and left turn lanes. The warning flashers on the right shoulder led to abrupt deceleration and rear-end collision, the report found.

It’s been 12 years since that was written and the flashers still remain there.

The report also recommended ‘smart channel’ right turns on to and from Cleveland Ave, which needs a reduction in the angle of turn.

That has yet to be implemented.

These recommendations echo once again in the 2031 Multi-modal Transportation plan published in 2011.

“A drive-through review conducted in the course of the study indicated that many of the issues identified in that report (2002) prevail today,” the 2011 district report said.

The district also found recommendation from 2002 on Highway 99 and Mamquam Road had also not been implemented, an intersection where a life was lost recently.

The district in its survey also found out that the existing left-turn lane on Mamquam Road is relatively short, which means left-turning vehicle queues extend beyond the left-turn bay and block westbound through traffic on Mamquam Road.

All these recommendations would have been considered, but not necessarily implemented, said Cindy Cousins, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.  

Cousins said the Mamquam west-bound lane has not been converted into a dual left-turn/through lane but the ministry made adjustments to the signal timing at this intersection.

Sgt. Brian Cumming is part of a regional traffic working group. He said there has been some discussion about MOTI elongating the south bound exit from Cleveland, but the ministry would need to increase their right of way.

“It’s a matter of space as they would have to build the bank bigger to elongate that exist,” Cumming said.

Cleveland and Highway 99 top collission spot

Meantime, Highway 99 and Cleveland Ave remains the top collision spot in town for the last five years. There are more crashes at the intersection of Cleveland Avenue and Highway 99 than any other intersection in Squamish: 186 from 2009-2013.

This intersection has high traffic volume, multi-turn lanes and at times speeding issues too, said Leslie Dickson from ICBC.

ICBC is working with staff at the District of Squamish as well as Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to address safety issues, particularly with relation to the eastbound to southbound right-turn lane and associated crashes.

In fact, this one intersection alone accounts for half of the 101 crashes occurring on the stretch of Highway 99 running through Squamish.

Cleveland and Highway 99 is the second most frequently crashed at intersection for drivers on the Sea-to-Sky from Pemberton to the (1A/Taylor Way) exit for the Lion’s Gate Bridge in North Vancouver.

The number of accidents at the intersection of Highway 99 and Mamquam are also on the rise. In 2013, there were 14 accidents (8 casualties) at the intersection, up from 11 compared over the last year.


  1. Dave Colwell says:

    If Roundabouts at intersections in Europe (like Cleveland and 99) were less safe than our problem intersection, then genocide would be committed every day on the European roads. Clearly this is not the case so why is this method not considered? This intersection is the most dangerous and the most frustrating that I have ever driven through. The safest and the least frustrating have always been roundabouts but then I had to learn how to use them and, you know, that was not rocket science!! And I still think Canada is the best Country in the world to live.
    A broken record?….Yes, but I like it’s sound :-)

  2. Jim Harvey says:

    And what about the right turn north onto the highway at the Garibaldi Way intersection? Instead of what one would think would be an obvious merge lane, one immediately pulls right into highway traffic – no merge lane at all. I am astounded there are not more accidents at this intersection……or maybe it’s just me?

  3. heather gee says:

    I’m not sure why Highway 99 called a highway. Highways in other countries don’t have any traffic-light stops, they have clover-shaped roads which allow for safe entrance and exit from the actual highway.
    The place I have had the most near-misses is when crossing from downtown to drive eastwards across the ‘highway’. Simultaneously, fast moving Vancouver traffic exit to travel down Loggers Lane past the Adventure Centre. The drivers’ vision on the exit is blocked from seeing cars crossing eastwards with a green light.
    One needs to brake hard and if cars happen to be behind one, it is the perfect plan for a pile-up leading to the highway being closed. Certainly, bad planning!

  4. Dave Colwell says:

    Several studies have identified that the installation of roundabouts at previous intersections operated by 4-way stop or traffic signals were improved. Transport Canada is recommending that Canadian jurisdictions consider converting signalized intersections to roundabouts wherever appropriate. Their findings as well as many others have concluded that countries showing higher reductions of intersection collisions have been implementing roundabouts. National Collision statistics produced by Transport Canada report 2500 fatal collisions and 145 000 injury collisions each year in Canada. In 2006, about 28% of road users killed and 40% of those seriously injured was a result of intersection related crashes.

    The most recent study was completed by the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP Report 572) and identified 26 multi-lane intersections that were converted to multi-lane roundabouts. The study showed a 67% overall reduction in collisions following implementation of the roundabouts