Variable speed zones will be in place on a sections of the Coquihalla Highway, and on two other major routes, by next winter, featuring electronic signs with limits that change depending on the conditions.
Transportation Minister Todd Stone spoke on Friday, March 20, to a meeting of the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce, outlining the province’s new 10-year transportation plan.
Stone told reporters three pilot areas — west of Revelstoke, around the Coquihalla Highway’s snowshed and at a location on the Sea to Sky Highway between Vancouver and Whistler — will be operational with variable speed limits in time for next winter.
Signs and sensors in the road will be tied to the ministry’s traffic-management centre in Coquitlam to provide a variable maximum speed for motorists during snow or heavy rains, for example.
“The 120-km/h speed limit in the case of the Coquihalla might not be appropriate based on a big dump of snow,” Stone said. “In a matter of minutes, we’ll be able to dial that speed limit down.”
The project will cost about $24 million for all three locations. Each section is about 10 to 12 kilometres in length.
Stone said the technology is used in other jurisdictions, particularly in Europe.
“It’s proven to reduce collisions and save lives,” he said.
Earlier on Friday, Stone announced $125,000 to install LED signs and special markings on Highway 97 at Monte Creek intended to make the route safer. The signs will be vehicle-activated to tell drivers when they are entering turns too fast.
The transportation plan pledges spending another $650 million on four-laning the Trans-Canada Highway east of the city. That will include four lanes from Kamloops through to Jade Mountain on the east side of Chase, as well as upgrading sections of the national highway around Salmon Arm and between Revelstoke and Golden. Passing lanes will also be added on Highway 5 North, north of Kamloops.
The plan also focuses on rebuilding infrastructure, including bridges, as well as improving surfaces on rural byways and side roads. There is also funding for airport investment.