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Province plans to allow for 'Olympic' traffic lanes

The B.C.

The B.C. government last week introduced legislation that would allow Vancouver 2010 Olympics and Paralympics organizers (VANOC) to designate lanes of certain roadways as "Olympic" lanes during the Games - but it's not clear whether organizers plan to use that authority on the Sea to Sky Highway.Last Thursday (April 17), B.C. Attorney General Wally Oppal tabled an omnibus bill that includes amendments to the province's Motor Vehicle Act allowing for the lanes to be officially designated.Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon said the intent is to give VANOC staff the authority to mark off and oversee the lane restrictions at certain critical times. He used the example of having at least one lane on certain roadways running from the Vancouver athletes' village to the speed-skating oval in Richmond during times when athletes, media, spectators and Games officials most need to reach the facility.Joan McIntyre, MLA for West Vancouver-Garibaldi, said she didn't know whether VANOC officials also aim to use the special lanes on Highway 99 from Horseshoe Bay to Whistler.Calls to VANOC seeking clarification on that point were not returned."It's not entirely specific," McIntyre said of the legislation on Friday (April 18). "This is what they call enabling legislation, enabling us to move people during the Winter Games, so that certain officials can be designated to monitor traffic when we're trying to get large volumes of traffic through during the Games."VANOC officials have yet to release a detailed Games-time transportation plan. The public has only been told that buses will be the primary mode of transport and that restrictions on private vehicle use are possible, especially just before and just after competitions and other large events.McIntyre acknowledged that the dearth of specific information about the Olympic transportation plan has prompted questions from some in her riding."I haven't heard very much in the corridor. I've actually heard more concerns from West Van, such as moving that traffic over the Lions Gate and up Taylor Way," McIntyre said.She said she's confident that VANOC will answer all of people's questions in due time."VANOC has an exemplary record so far and I hope that builds confidence in their abililty to do an excellent job with the transportation planning," she said.McIntyre added that at past Olympics, such as the Summer Games in Sydney in 2000, the vast majority of the public had little difficulty adjusting to the Games-time transportation plans."[Organizers] let people know well in advance that they maybe won't be able to move around as freely as normal, and they were very cooperative," McIntyre said."They sort of lowered people's expectations, and then when it came to that time, it worked very well, people were willing to take transit on some occasions and they were very cooperative."

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