Anyone in doubt of the need to finish four-laning our national highway from Kamloops to the Alberta border would likely have become a believer if they’d been driving it over the August long weekend.
To say traffic was slow would be an understatement. At worst, it was like the back-to-back, snails pace one expects to encounter on the Trans-Canada Highway near Abbotsford following a fender bender. This, however, is what travellers encountered in the intense heat of Monday, Aug. 1, at different spots and over long distances along the Kamloops to Alberta border stretch of the highway.
Even Highway 97 was bustling with traffic. Anyone heading past Winfield to Kelowna during the afternoon of Aug. 4 couldn’t have been blamed for thinking some kind of apocalypse had occurred further ahead, as the two oncoming lanes were packed bumper-to-bumper with vehicles for about two kilometres. It turned out this was caused by those inconvenient signal lights at the south end of Winfield.
No doubt, many of our visitors travelling the TCH over the past couple weekends were questioning whether or not the incremental speed limit increases along the highway provided any meaningful benefit.
In 2012, B.C. Premier Christy Clark said the province is prepared to spend $650 million over 10 years on projects that will help meet the long-term goal of four-laning the TCH to the Alberta border. The replacement of the Malakwa Bridge is one of those projects. It is expected to begin this month, and be finished by 2015. For this project alone, the province is committing $22 million, while the federal government is contributing another $13 million. While the province’s share of this project amounts to about 3.4 per cent of the $650 commitment, one can see how four-laning the TCH as proposed will be a costly endeavour. However, it’s certainly worthwhile, as it will, ideally, help eliminate down on those ridiculous summer line-ups that hinder trade and tourism and, more important, reduce the potential for accidents and save lives.