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Squamish treated generously: MOT

A long-awaited meeting with Ministry of Transportation representatives yielded small victories Tuesday (April 29).

A long-awaited meeting with Ministry of Transportation representatives yielded small victories Tuesday (April 29). Sea to Sky Highway project director John Cavanagh, regional director Tracy Cooper, and assistant deputy minister Mike Proudfoot came to Squamish to discuss council's concerns stemming from the Highway 99 expansion.One sticking point between the two parties was the need for a safe pedestrian route across the highway at the Adventure Centre, where students from Howe Sound Secondary and Capilano College continue to dart across."If there was an underpass there you'd see a lot of use for it," said Coun. Patricia Heintzman. Cavanagh said the request came too late. Though he agreed the underpass might be useful, he showed little hope that it could be built as part of the expansion project. "We're now over 70 per cent built on the highway and this would be a major change, a major structural change to the highway with significant money attached to that."He said it was a municipal responsibility to get people to the Adventure Centre and pointed out the building hadn't been constructed when expansion designs were originally drawn up."That won't be accommodated as part of the Sea to Sky Highway. We can speak to people in the ministry about the future viability of this."Mayor Ian Sutherland was not interested in taking a rain check. "I know it's difficult but it's not impossible," he said. "To be realistic, once you finish this project, coming back and doing something else isn't going to happen for another 10 to 15 years."Cavanagh offered to conduct a feasibility and cost study on the idea. "By when?" Sutherland asked. "Geez, have you got Kim kicking you under the table?" Cavanagh replied, referring to chief administrative officer Kim Anema.Cavanagh said he would strive to turn the study around quickly but did not commit to a date earlier than July 1. Sutherland asked when the lights at the yet-to-be unveiled Wal-Mart intersection would begin operating and questioned why the rough pavement had been left unfinished for so long. "On dark and rainy weather, it's pretty darn tough to follow those nonexistent lines."Cavanagh said the final steps were held up as they waited for quiet pavement to put down.He said MOT had to mobilize a different plant to put the pavement in but suggested a patch of highway around Wal-Mart could be considered for early completion since the quiet pavement may not be necessary in that spot.Coun. Greg Gardner said the proposed height of about 2.2 metres of the Mamquam Blind Channel underpass wouldn't look welcoming."We had 3.1 metres of clearance at that spot before the build." Cavanagh pointed out the province is covering the cost of several sidewalks along the highway near downtown. Cooper noted it was the first time in his 37-year career with MOT that the ministry paid for a sidewalk."John, you're a very generous man," he said.

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