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transportation meet

It will likely be another month before any decisions on Whistler’s transportation master plan are made. "Municipal staff were a little disappointed with the consultants’ final report and want to draft their own position paper," Transportation Advisory Group chairman Bill Murray said this week. "The Ministry of Highways and the mountains will likely want to make their positions known, too," Murray added. TAG has been trying since Christmas to come to some decisions on the direction Whistler’s transportation master plan should take. Six scenarios were presented in November, each of which included a variety of components and strategies for moving residents and visitors in and around Whistler, as well as between Vancouver and Whistler and through Whistler. The scenarios varied in the emphasis they placed on automobiles, public transit and other methods of moving people. Each scenario also has financial, social, environmental and quality of life costs. Work on the transportation master plan began nearly two years ago. By last November consultants Reid Crowther and Ecosign had tested some — but not all — of the scenarios against data collected and future development plans. TAG members then decided that, having come this far, all of the scenarios should be tested. However, the consultants were reluctant to do that as they never envisioned testing each of the scenarios when they originally bid on the contract. TAG members, who include representatives of the municipality, the Whistler Resort Association and Whistler/Blackcomb, suggested they would be willing to pay something additional in order to have all the scenarios tested. The consultants’ final report, with all six scenarios tested, was expected in late January or February, but according to Murray "problems with their systems" postponed the results until late February. TAG members then needed some time to digest the report. Last week Murray met with Director of Public Works John Nelson and Mayor Hugh O’Reilly, both members of TAG, and municipal staff announced they wanted to submit their own position paper. Murray conceded this week that the process "certainly has been dragging," but said the consultants’ final report "is a bit thin." He expects a full TAG meeting — without the consultants present — the first week of April. Decisions on the various scenarios or direction to take likely won’t be made until a second meeting, with the consultants, takes place a week or two later. "Then we hope to go back to the public with a couple of clear scenarios," Murray said. Regardless of which scenario is eventually chosen, one of the major decisions will be what happens to Highway 99 through Whistler. To satisfy the Ministry of Transportation, Whistler has to chose to widen the existing Highway 99 to four lanes, from Lorimer Road to south of Whistler Creek, or build an alternate route along the west side of the valley. There are two or three cross-valley routes the west side highway could use to connect to Highway 99.

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