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Howe Sound on one side, rock cliffs on the other, and A HIGHWAY runs through it

Motorists have seen few disruptions, but Highway 99 upgrade has conservationists and property owners alarmed.



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"There are certainly drivers that can be confused by it," she says pointing to the tunnel of pylons ahead of us. "When you look at the road and there’s orange here, orange there and a sign over there it’s like almost a driver’s training course or something. But that strikes back to our job – are we making it as obvious as we can as far as traffic control goes?"

Apparently not this morning. In the northbound dead or closed off lane a cherry picker attempts to unload and place barriers, but traffic is stopped in the active lane trying to exit via the off-ramp blocked by the cherry picker. Traffic control people or flaggers, don’t have enough pylons to divert traffic. "Southbound is passing him (a flagger) quite close and he’s standing there unprotected," Fernandez says as she reaches for the radio to call for more pylons to be brought to the crew.

Fernandez has been in traffic control for almost 20 years, starting as an 18-year-old in the Pemberton area. She has an almost fierce attachment to the highway project, proud that no one has been hurt on the project and delays to motorists have been minimal. She chooses her words carefully when asked about cranky motorists.

"When you work in a restaurant or a store customers have their complaints that need to be resolved. But here on the highway I don’t have to deal with that, I wave and I smile and they carry on," she says.

Fernandez drives the 50 km speed limit through the construction zone and admits to not having much patience with motorists who don’t.

"Sometimes I want to ask them what the heck their hurry is," she says as we slow to turn into Brunswick Pit. At that moment a green Ford Explorer pulls out to pass her, crossing a double solid into the path of oncoming traffic. "Like I was saying," she says.

Linda Spears opens the door to her sunlit-filled home perched on Strachan Point before I’ve barely finished giving my name through the intercom. She and husband Peter, along with 14 other property owners, have been cut off from northbound access to the highway by the continuous centre median.

"We’ve been screwed," Spears says. She believes that even if they wanted to they wouldn’t be able to sell the waterfront home where they’ve lived for 10 years and on which they’ve just finished a three-year, $1 million renovation.