News » Whistler

Olympic transportation plans broken down in numbers



If the sheer glory of winning an Olympic gold medal isn't enough inspiration to fire up 2010 athletes, maybe the chance to ride the Sea to Sky corridor via helicopter will fan the flames.

This proposal, which will ensure athletes can get to Vancouver on time for the evening medal presentations, will be included in the 2010 mini-bid book, to be submitted to the IOC at the end of May.

"We have to submit a plan with what we know exists," said Dena Coward, manager of transportation for the 2010 Bid Corporation.

All of the proposed transportation requirements for the bid, including helicopter flights, were the topic of last week's Olympic InfoZone meeting at the Whistler Mountain Ski Club cabin in Creekside.

About 20 locals showed up Wednesday, April 10 to hear how 43,000 people were going to make their way up the Sea to Sky Corridor during the 2010 Games, if Vancouver-Whistler wins the bid.

The total number of people are based on the following estimates during peak times (roughly 60 per cent of the time):

• 30,000 spectators

• 6,000 volunteers

• 700 media

• 1,200 sponsors

• 100 V.I.P.s

• 5,000 day skiers

The biggest group, the spectators, must be loaded within a three-hour period.

"That still means there will be people leaving Vancouver at 4 in the morning potentially, so it could get ugly," said Coward.

To accommodate these numbers, Highway 99 must expand to three lanes of traffic, said Coward, with two lanes heading northbound and one southbound.

But in addition to the expanded highway, the transportation committee has also come up with a multi-mode solution, including travelling via bus, train, boat and helicopter.

"We're trying to be flexible. If a road closes down, we have rail and marine," said Coward.

About 1,500 buses will be needed to move spectators and volunteers from Vancouver and Squamish to Whistler. About 400 buses would be arriving and departing Whistler on peak days.

In addition, about 20 to 30 high-speed passenger-only ferries will ship people from Vancouver to Squamish. From Squamish these passengers will then make their way to Whistler via bus or rail.

The rail transit will be made up of roughly 50 bi-level commuter cars, similar to the West Coast Express rail cars, to take passengers from Squamish to Whistler.

"Private vehicles in the corridor will be restricted to residents through a permit system," said Coward.

The details of that system have yet to be worked out by the RCMP, she said.