The Highway 97 intersection at Juniper Road in Quesnel is being deactivated today.(Oct 26)
The decision was made after an analysis by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure determined that the current configuration of the intersection, combined with significant volumes of commercial traffic, contributes to a collision rate on Highway 97 that is higher than the provincial average.
Mayor Bob Simpson says it is all part of a bigger plan when the city asked for an analysis of traffic flows from one end of the City right through to the other…
“It comes out of the Highway 97 corridor study that was done by the Ministry almost four years ago now, where they did a full year all four season analysis of traffic flows, they looked at where all of the key intersections were that were potentially dangerous or had actual accidents to suggest that they were a high level of incidents, and they came up with an overarching plan. That plan goes all the way back to where the double laning ended south of town as you come into town from the Dragon Lake area, and they looked at right through and up Airport Hill.”
Simpson says the section that they have the money for, to actually build and fix up, is a section on the flat above Dragon Lake Hill going south from the Aroma Foods-Valhalla Road area, right through Juniper right back to the Canadian Tire intersection.
He says the only reason that there haven’t been more accidents in that area is because motorists have been very careful, and put their head on a swivel because it was such a scary intersection.
With the Highway 97/Juniper Road intersection deactivated, traffic will now be redirected to the adjacent Highway 97 intersections at Quesnel-Hydraulic Road or Larch Avenue.
Getting back to the transportation plan, Simpson says another piece of that was the Interconnector or bypass discussion that needed to be part of that…
“We needed to have an understanding from the Ministry from that full year study of traffic flows, what would be the best option and alternative for us to deal with replacing the bridge over the Quesnel River and over the Railway tracks, and still address our need to have people get into town and out of town easily, and making sure we were picking up all of the inter mill traffic.”
Simpson says part of the problem with the traditional idea of a bypass somewhere south of town was that there would still be all of the inter mill traffic and pickup traffic going through Front Street and Carson Avenue.
He says they had a number of things to work with the Ministry on, including the traffic flow changes that have now been done on Front Street, and the changes to Reid Street.
Simpson says now the Racing Road/Hydraulic Road intersection area is going to be dealt with, and the Ministry of Transportation has accepted in principle, the plan and the route for the North-South Interconnector, and the replacement of those two bridges.