Traffic. Everyone loves to hate it. Ask anyone who heads to the Big Smoke about their trip and the subject of traffic will probably take a drive through the conversation.
But that is expected in the city. What is not looked upon as jovially is the traffic congestion that takes place here every long weekend and even regular weekends throughout the high summer months. The visitors to our valley, coming to escape the hustle and bustle, are forced to line up upwards of 30 minutes at Radium’s four-way stop to get to their vacation destinations.
The May long weekend was no exception. Radium councillors expressed frustration with the amount of flagging service provided by the Ministry of Transportation (see story page 3). They had expected flaggers to help ease congestion all weekend; what they got instead was an apparently scattered timesheet of hours that did not make enough of an impact on the vehicle backups.
This traffic is not only annoying; it’s toxic. Think of the pollution coming out of each idling car, lined up for blocks as drivers snake their way through Sinclair Canyon and in towards Invermere.
According to Natural Resources Canada, tailpipe emissions include carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds and particulate matter. There is no way that a traffic build-up at one of our key intersections in the valley is helping anyone breathe easier.
At the end of the day for most visitors, this was probably just a nuisance on their way to a great long weekend. But nuisances have a way of adding up and can detract from an overall experience and the elusive repeat-customer sought by every tourism provider in the valley.
Whether it is a traffic light, a roundabout, or regularly-scheduled flaggers, something needs to be done. Otherwise, the problem will eventually drive people away.