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Idling motorists asked to turn their keys

Air emissions program developed for the Sea to Sky upgrade project

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Drivers on the Sea to Sky Highway who are waiting at roadblocks will soon be asked to cut their engines to reduce air pollution.

Peter Milburn, the executive director with the Sea to Sky upgrade project, said the Ministry of Transportation is developing an air emissions program not only for Highway 99 motorists but also for the work crews on the highway.

"We’d be asking people in the line-ups to please turn the vehicles off to reduce air pollution," he said.

"Where it is practical, we want to have an air quality program so the contractors are setting the same example."

The municipality was very supportive of the program.

According the Natural Resources Canada, idling for more than 10 seconds uses more fuel than turning off the engine and restarting it.

This is contrary to today’s cultural myths, said Councillor Ken Melamed, where people still believe restarting a car burns more fuel.

"It’s intriguing how resistant are our myths about idling in our culture," he said at Monday’s council meeting, where council received a letter from Better Environmentally Sound Transportation, which highlighted some idling statistics.

BEST and the Jack Bell Foundation are also working together on a campaign to reduce unnecessary vehicle idling throughout the Lower Mainland.

The Idle Free Workplaces Campaign is aimed at creating idle-free zones within municipalities, workplaces and schools.

"Vehicle idling, or leaving your engine running when parked in situations other than traffic, wastes fuel and money, and hurts the environment," wrote David Hendrickson, Idle Free Workplaces.

The municipality has idling bylaws in place but as Melamed pointed out, enforcement is unpalatable and relatively ineffective.

He said the more the local government can repeat the message about idling, the more they will be able to breakdown the myths.

As for the highway upgrade project, Milburn said they will be enforcing the air emissions program through a contractual measure.

It will be written into the highway contracts that come out this summer and fall and will hopefully be in place for the new test section of the highway.

A seven kilometre test section from Sunset Beach to Lyon’s Bay is due to begin this summer.

The remainder of the work on the highway will go out in one large contract, which should be moving into the Request For Proposals stage shortly. The contract should be awarded next February.

Milburn said the contractors will be asked to reduce idling machines where practical.

Motorists will be encouraged to follow the air emissions program through signage or with direct contact with flag people on the road.

Milburn does not know if a program like this has been developed for other highway construction. It just seemed like a smart thing to do he said.

"I thought it was a great discussion and a good idea to put in place."

For more information check out http://oee.nrcan.gc.ca/idling/

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