A second entry point to downtown Squamish, improved access to the Chief, and better east-west crossing of the highway were some of the concerns raised at a town hall meeting Tuesday to discuss upgrades to Highway 99.
Highlights of the upgrades through Squamish include a four-lane divided highway with gated entries at either end of the district, to create a "feeling of transition" as motorists enter the community. The north gate would likely be in Brackendale with the south gate likely around the Shannon Falls/Chief area.
But perhaps the biggest change Whistler commuters will notice is a potentially lower speed limit through Squamish. Mayor Ian Sutherland said he wants the current 80 km/h limit lowered to 60 or 70.
"The highway doesnt do us any good if all that people do is drive by at 90 miles per hour. We want to make sure the highway serves the needs of our community, not just those travelling to and from Whistler," Sutherland said.
"I dont think it will slow down people that much who have to go to Whistler or beyond, it would probably only add five minutes to their trip. We hear over and over again from people who actually live here that they want a speed limit in the 60 km/h range and we keep on pushing that."
Squamish Council will present a formal report to the Ministry of Transportation by Dec. 15. Sutherland says designs for the Squamish portion of the highway are still in the preliminary stages and he vows to keep working with the ministry for a solution.
"Clearly when we work together and give good input, and we try and find solutions we are going to be better off. And Im confident that we all want to get towards the best project possible. We may disagree from time to time but we want to work together to do the best job we can do," Sutherland said.