New passing lane planned for Darfield

Highway 5 from Little Fort to Barriere is highway department’s top priority for passing lanes in area

The section of Highway 5 from Little Fort to Barriere is the highway department’s top priority for passing lanes in this area, according to Paula Cousins, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure district manager in Kamloops.

Speaking during the community-to-community forum held in Clearwater on Jan. 30, Cousins noted that the existing northbound passing lane in Darfield is short and ends before the top of the hill.

Her staff is looking at extending it, as well as installing a southbound passing lane elsewhere in Darfield.

“The planning is well advanced for project delivery,” she said. “Once we get the green light, we will proceed with public consultation.”

A second priority for passing lanes is the section from Heffley Canyon to McLure.

Finding the best location in the steep terrain is the challenge, she said.

New passing lanes were installed between Albreda and Chappell Creek north of Blue River in 2014.

This year new passing lanes between Camp Creek and Tete Jaune Cache will go to tender.

LIDAR mapping is being done for possible passing lanes between Clearwater and McMurphy, but the section is not seen as a top priorities.

A major count to get up-to-date and accurate traffic numbers on Highway 5 is planned for 2016.

Simpcw First Nation councillor Fred Fortier suggested that the count should include a separate number for buses and not lump them in with trucks.

Fortier also asked about the size of gravel used to sand the highway in winter.

“It seems to be gravel they are putting on the highway, not sand,” he said. “We need to replace our windshields pretty well every year.”

Cousins said the maximum size in the mix is 12 mm, which might sound large. She noted that if the mix is too light, it is just blown off by trucks.

Highways maintenance contracts will end in a few years and the department will be looking at if it can reduce the maximum size, she said.

In response to a question from Bill Kershaw, TNRD director for Lower North Thompson (Area O), Cousins said a preliminary design has been done on a left-turn lane for Highway 24 in Little Fort.

Re-paving for a section south of Little Fort should go to tender in the next few years.

Clearwater councillor Ken Kjenstad asked about bringing back speed signs for curves on Highway 5.

Cousins said some of the signs had come down as part of the increase in maximum speed for certain highways across the province.

The feeling was that, with the improvement in vehicles, the slow-down signs were no longer needed, and other options, such as chevrons or better delineation, would work as well or better.

Now, however, their engineers are reviewing the change and some signs might go back up.

Cousins said she had heard of two curves in particular that some feel should have slow-down signs. She asked people to let her know if there are others.