Upped speed limit increases hazards

New 100km/hr speed limit adds to danger at busy Matsu Drive-Bentley Road cross streets on Highway 97 North.

Dear Editor:

To the Hon. Mary Polak

B.C. Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure

We would like to bring to your attention a  very dangerous situation that has resulted from an incomprehensible change in the allowed speed limit near our home.

The location is Highway 97 just north of Summerland.

Some time early this year a decision seems to have been made to increase the speed limit to 100 kilometres an hour less that 100 metres before what is becoming an increasingly busy intersection, i.e., the Matsu Drive-Bentley Road cross streets.

On the Matsu Drive side (lakeside of the highway), it is the only exit for a popular winery and bistro (with tourist cars and buses and delivery and service vehicles); several busy orchards (with accompanying large numbers of seasonal workers and farm vehicles); as well as those of us who live in the area.

On the Bentley Road side it serves as the main northern exit for the Bentley Road Industrial area with their associated trucks and delivery vehicles.

So, for traffic flowing north on the highway, through Summerland, the allowed speed is 60 kilometres an hour, then it increases to 80 kilometres an hour, then just around the bend past Sumac Ridge it is 100 kilometres an hour. Many drivers accelerate rapidly, not expecting a busy intersection less than 100 metres away.

For those entering the highway from Matsu Drive or turning left out of Bentley Road, it has become very difficult and dangerous at times, with large trucks and other vehicles bearing down at 100 kilometres an hour. The fact that immediately preceding the intersection, northbound highway traffic is suddenly accelerating from 80 to 100 confounds the problem by making speed judgement for the highway crosser confusing.

Surely it would make more sense to post the 100Km/hr after the intersection.

And in fact it would make even more sense to leave the increase until after the first big bend north of the intersection.

As it is now, the large trucks just get up to speed only to apply the extremely noisy engine brakes to negotiate the bend.

It is somewhat ironic that when we moved here in the late seventies, although much less busy, the intersection was very dangerous because of the blind exit occluded by the cliff. After a letter campaign and the first stage of four-laning and removal of part of the cliff, it was much safer, and now it has reverted to a similar level of danger as three decades ago.

We have seen and been part of several near misses at this increasingly dangerous intersection and think it could be alleviated if the speed limit was 80 kilometres an hour until after the next bend.

To reiterate, the salient point is that northbound highway drivers are being prompted to accelerate into an intersection and a major curve rather than decelerate or maintain steady speed, the opposite of what proper driving procedure would require.

Thank you for your attention.

Robert Kripps and Elizabeth Harrison



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