By Eric Elliott
Municipality leaders from across the Columbia Valley have made their way back from the annual Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) Conference held in Victoria from September 26th to 30th. Accompanying them home were a host of potential changes for their respective communities.
For Radium Hot Springs, one of these potential changes involves various traffic concerns. Mayor Clara Reinhardt, who attended the UBCM Conference along with Councillor Tyler McCauley, said that they were able to meet with staff from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to talk about several highway issues surrounding the village.
One of these issues is the four-way stop sign where Highway 93 and Highway 95 intersect; mainly trying to find a suitable way to manage traffic flow at that specific stop, especially during peak traffic times such as weekends and the Christmas season, Mayor Reinhardt said.
We needed two protocols, she said. One for the predictable traffic flow and one for unpredictable traffic flows and thats when there are accidents on one of our highways and, after a long closure, theres all that backed up traffic. Trying to manage that, whether its coming out of the park or coming down Highway 95 or whether its when the highways close between Golden and Lake Louise because the traffic is diverted through here, causes all kinds of headaches.
Mayor Reinhardt said that this has been an ongoing concern within the Village of Radium that has been brought to her attention more than once over the years.
We hear it from the people who come either as tourists or as regular weekenders, she said. When people come to town, they always judge their trip by how far back they are when they hit the line. Were you before or after the Hot Springs? Were you before or after the tunnel? Its awful.
The other issue that was discussed during the meeting was the preliminary plan tabled in 2012 to potentially construct a roundabout at the aforementioned intersection to help mitigate the traffic flow issues. Mayor Reinhardt said the Ministry of Transportation had planned to construct several roundabouts throughout the province before potentially constructing one in Radium.
Ms. Reinhardt said she approached the UBCM hoping to get some answers on whether the roundabout was still a possibility or what else the Ministry had determined.
They informed us that they built two or three of them and the trucking industry told them that they are not big enough and they are not meeting their needs so that plan has pretty much been shelved, she said.
Mayor Reinhardt said they also inquired as to when the last time a traffic count was done in the area and were informed it was last done five years ago, so they responded with a request for an updated traffic count to help gauge the need in the area for improved traffic flow work.
Our ask was that we come up with a more sustainable fix and that could include some kind of traffic lights that can be controlled remotely or, even better, the technology is there now that there are traffic lights that can measure the flow and adjust accordingly so that when you have peak flows in any one direction, it adjusts to that, she said. We feel confident that they heard us and well follow up in a few months if we havent heard anything and go from there.