Despite opposition from certain Clearwater businesses, a roundabout in the middle of Highway 5 at the turn off to Wells Gray Park is the safest fix for pedestrian and vehicle dangers, said Rick Blixrud, Ministry of Transportation assistant regional director.
"A traffic circle has lower recorded accidents," he said. "If you look at our highway accident statistics, wherever you stop people on the highway is where you do have the accidents. There's relatively few on the place between the intersections."
Blixrud also clarified policies aaround roundabouts and traffic lights. While Clearwater acting mayor Jon Kreke said the municipality was told the province would no longer install new lights at numbered highway intersections, Blixrud said each intersection is taken on a case-by-case basis.
"Every situation is different based on the number of people that are passing through on the highway and are entering and exiting the highway or crossing over."
Crosswalks are also safer at roundabouts, he said, because the lanes are narrower and they have the refuge of an island in the middle. The alternative is much more precarious, he said.
"People approaching would have to wait for a gap and cross during the gap."
There are currently 22 roundabouts on B.C. highways and they work, said Blixrud, because drivers will naturally slow down upon approaching physical barriers. Mere speed signs prove less useful.
"Where you have a speed zone where there isn't a lot of accesses to businesses and things like that, people will just naturally go at the speed they're comfortable at."
He added that safety features, such as internal curbing, ensure vehicles don't collide with the infrastructure.
"So if a vehicle doesn't get into their lane and cross over some of the internal curbing, they'll just go over it."
Signals and signs will warn drivers of the new circle, like any other measure designed to slow traffic down.