New roundabout improves safety and access to Wells Gray Park

new roundabout at the junction of Highway 5 and Clearwater Valley Road is now complete

Kamloops-North Thompson MLA Terry Lake  and Clearwater Mayor John Harwood attach a “completed” sign to officially open the roundabout on Highway 5 on Friday.

Kamloops-North Thompson MLA Terry Lake and Clearwater Mayor John Harwood attach a “completed” sign to officially open the roundabout on Highway 5 on Friday.

A new roundabout at the junction of Highway 5 and Clearwater Valley Road is now complete and open to traffic, improving safety for highway travellers and pedestrians, as well as enhancing the gateway to the popular Wells Gray Provincial Park.

Kamloops-North Thompson MLA Terry Lake and Clearwater Mayor John Harwood officially opened the structure during a ceremony on Friday.

Several dozen representatives from the municipality, Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, and others attended the event.

“Wells Gray Provincial Park is a world-class recreation destination, and this roundabout provides better access and signage to attract visitors,” said Lake. “These improvements also address the safety concerns brought forward by local leaders and I thank them for their input on this project, which was a community effort.”

The MLA praised everyone involved in the project, mentioning in particular regional project manager Dave Shibata from Kamloops.

The roundabout improves the safety of pedestrians crossing the highway, said John Harwood.

“It also addresses the need for better advertising for Wells Gray Park,” the mayor said. “Too often we’ve heard people say, ‘I missed the turnoff. I’m not going back.’”

Harwood said he was particularly happy that the contract for the roundabout went to Clearwater’s own Doug Borrow Enterprises.

“Completing this roundabout will give that company saleable talents all across the country,” he predicted.

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure project, worth $3.1 million, replaces the old intersection and reduces the potential for serious crashes for traffic using the corridor.

While the roundabout calms traffic, it also includes signs that highlight the natural splendour that can be found in nearby Wells Gray Provincial Park. Locals and tourists will be able to safely turn from the highway to the local businesses and the park access road, especially during the busy summer period.

Yellowhead Highway 5 is a major east-west route linking B.C. with Alberta. The roundabout was also specifically designed to accommodate the large commercial vehicles that use the Highway 5 corridor, including extraordinary wide loads.