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.