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Arguing case for highway barrier

Whistler resident reviews plans for Sea to Sky



A report recommending a concrete barrier running the length of the Sea to Sky Highway will be sent the province this week.

Retired Whistler resident Ross Walker, a former highway consultant who has been campaigning hard for the barrier, was working on the report after seeing the detailed plans for the $600 million highway upgrades.

"The work they’re doing is very good," he said this week. "(But) I’m still on my kick about the barrier."

His recommendations come after two-day meetings with the highway improvement project team and the project site director.

"I’m actually quite impressed with what they’re doing," said Walker.

The plans already include numerous safety improvements such as centre-line rumble strips, extending the passing lanes and significant rock stabilization work. Concrete median barriers will also be added to all the four lane sections of road.

Walker, however, believes the concrete barriers can be extended to the narrower sections and run the entire length of the highway.

His report will outline the case for that.

"What I’m doing (in the report) is giving a justification for the concrete barrier," explained Walker. "I know the information that I’ve seen now, I know what the sections are like, and I’m making recommendations for using the barrier and how to implement it."

The problem, as the province sees it, is putting a barrier down the road with just two or three lanes. That means the barrier could run beside just one lane of roadway in some cases. If that lane gets plugged with an accident or a stalled car it could block the highway and make it impossible for crews to even get to the problem.

Walker is not convinced that would be a problem.

When asked if he was dissuaded about his proposal after seeing the detailed plans, Walker said he felt quite the opposite.

"Not yet," he said. "As a matter of fact I think I might be even a little more positive than I was before."

The Ministry of Transportation agreed to open their plans to Walker last month after the highway consultant presented his concerns to Whistler council.

His concerns represent the worries of many in the community about the highway improvements and whether they will make the road as safe as possible.

Council supported his efforts to get additional safety measures on the road.

Though he is feeling confident about the progress made in the last month, getting the province and the private contractor to change the plans is not going to be easy, admits Walker.

He said: "There’s still a long way to go yet."

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