By Andrew Mitchell
Long before Tuesday’s public open house on the Sea to Sky Highway Improvement Project from Brandywine to Whistler, the exact route and number of lanes had already been decided — work has even begun on several sections, that will continue through this summer and the next.
However, Tuesday’s open house did give locals an opportunity to comment on the look and feel of the community, including the new gateway to Whistler.
It was the fourth open house held in Whistler to discuss that section of the highway, and according to project director John Cavanagh, almost all of the feedback has been positive.
“I like to use the building a house analogy. In the early meetings we were discussing what kind of house we wanted to build, was it wood or stucco, how big does it need to be, and that kind of thing. Now we’re in the process of picking out the carpets, so to speak, and so far we’ve had pretty good feedback on how this section of highway is going to look when we’re done with it.”
In the new design, both northbound and southbound passing lanes will be added to that section of highway, and there will be four lane sections as well. By the time the highway reaches Whistler the highway will be two lanes again.
It was important for safety to give people a sense of arrival once they’ve reached Function Junction.
“Studies have been done that show people drive differently in rural areas than in urban areas, in urban areas they drive slower and are more alert to what’s around them. That’s the kind of thing we’re hoping to accomplish with the gateway, to really give people the sense that they’ve arrived so they can modify their driving accordingly,” said Cavanagh.
The proposed gateway would be just south of the lights at Function Junction. There will be a large, lighted sign informing people that they have arrived in Whistler that would be of either metal or stone. The sign would also include the First Nations name for the area of “Spo7ez”, following a theme that will be used the length of the highway.
Visitors to the open house got to voice their preference for sign design and colour, as well as the surrounding landscaping.
Two choices being considered for the landscaping include a series of banner poles, with banners informing people of local festivals and events, or a series of landscaped trees.
The area would slow traffic heading into the intersection at Function Junction, which will become more frequently used in both directions once the athletes village is completed. It can also calm traffic if the speed limit is lowered from Function to Alta Lake Road in recognition of communities.