Sea to Sky Corridor officials are banding together in a fight for more safety measures on Highway 99.
Two weeks ago, a head-on collision left two 19-year-olds dead. Olivia Sonja Robertson, of Collingwood, Ont., and Valentine Leborgne of Los Altos, Calif., died when their vehicle crossed the centerline and struck an oncoming pickup truck on Nov. 23 at around 7:25 a.m. The accident spurred municipal officials into action, with Squamish Coun. Patricia Heintzman leading the charge.
“We all live with it,” she said of Highway 99 collisions.
There will always be human error, but stakeholders should make sure the road doesn’t contribute to that, Heintzman said. In isolation, municipal governments have discussed problem areas along Highway 99. Now they’re joining forces to ask the provincial government to address their concerns — including the request for the installation of median barriers along the two-lane stretch north of Lions Bay where last month’s accident occurred.
“We are trying to get a bit of a collective front,” Heintzman said.
Officials need to take a holistic look at accidents on the highway, she said. Besides the tragic and devastating human loss and impact on people’s lives, accidents cost business owners and the government money, she said. During the ski season, Whistler generates an estimated $1.2 million in tax revenue per day, Heinztman noted.
Add to that the costs of first responders and less foot traffic through local stores, she said.
In the long run it’s better to spend money on infrastructure now rather than reacting after a crash occurs, Heintzman said.
“These accidents are massively expensive,” Heintzman said, adding she anticipates corridor officials will meet to discuss the issue in January.
The Ministry of Transportation (MOT) is looking into safety concerns along the 1.7 kilometres of the highway where the fatal accident occurred.
“The ministry is working with the police in conducting their investigation of the incident,” said an MOT spokesperson by email. “The ministry is also undertaking a review of the crash location and along with the police findings, will determine whether additional safety enhancements are needed in the area.”
The stretch north of Lions Bay was widened, and its curve alignment improved, as part of the $600 million Sea to Sky Improvement Project completed in the lead-up to the 2010 Winter Olympics. But there are no concrete lane dividers.
— with files from Glacier Media