It was another tragic year on the main highway around Lake Country as motor vehicle accidents continued on Highway 97 both north and south of Lake Country, including a deadly crash just weeks before Christmas that renewed Lake Country’s calls for safety meridians on part of Highway 97 between Lake Country and Kelowna.
Despite media reports that stated the installation of safety barriers was a done deal, the Highways Ministry says they will first hold public consultations—likely in the spring—before making any decision on possible safety meridians on the highway.
“We monitor our highways for safety and this is clearly an area that needs some attention,” said Murray Tekano, district manager of transportation for the Ministry of Highways. “We’re in the process of planning these improvements, identifying what can be done and how it can be done.”
In September, Lake Country fire chief Steve Windsor reported that there was a substantial increase in traffic accidents between Lake Country and Kelowna this year and had sent a request to the Ministry of Transportation asking about the possibility of safety meridians. At the UBCM meeting later that month in Whistler Lake Country officials reiterated the request for the safety barriers to be installed.
“It’s just a high speed highway and for whatever reason if you have inattention, you have very little time to correct it,” said Windsor. “At those kinds of speeds, it’s just a millisecond and if you drift at all you can be in the other lane very, very quickly.”
Earlier in the year the Highways Ministry installed safety barriers on 11 kilometres of Highway 97 between Lake County and Vernon as a safety measure.