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Seven-year-old Whistler girl's letter helps prompt provincial safety review

Transportation Minister Todd Stone says he was ‘moved’ by Riley Donohue’s letter

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The provincial minister of transportation has responded to a young girl's letter calling for enhanced safety on Highway 99 near Lillooet.

Earlier this month, seven-year-old Riley Donohue wrote Minister Todd Stone asking that he "please, please, please put berryrs" along the highway where her aunt and cousin lost their lives in an accident on Jan. 2.

Stone was not available for comment, but on Jan. 28 he told the Vancouver Sun that he was moved by Donohue's letter.

"She is a very articulate seven-year-old. I've got three little girls myself, (ages) 10, eight and five, so I was very impressed with how eloquent she was in getting her points across in the letter," Stone told the Sun.

"I thought it would be more appropriate to hand-write something to her than to send more of a traditional somewhat cold letter from the ministry."

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Transportation confirmed to the Pique that a "guardrail warrant assessment" would take place this spring at the location of the Jan. 2 crash, approximately four kilometres north of Lillooet.

"When determining the need for the placement of concrete roadside barrier, the ministry uses an engineering warrant assessment which includes the posted speed, grade of highway, volume of traffic, possible weather conditions, steepness and height of adjacent slopes," the ministry said.

A thorough review of the area was done in 2011, and in 2012 a warning sign review resulted in upgraded signage.

The accident prompted an online petition asking for a safety review as well. It garnered over 2,200 signatures, and also played a role in prompting the assessment of the roadway.

The RCMP, coroner and traffic analysts who attended the Jan. 2 accident will provide the ministry with their assessment of the causes of the crash.

"The incident is still under investigation. Ministry staff will consider any recommendations which result from the RCMP's investigations into this crash, either in terms of operations, maintenance or the roadway itself," the ministry said.

Pick up next week's Pique for more.

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