Clearwater is getting a traffic roundabout on the highway at its entrance, despite the objections of some locals.
The province announced Friday it would be putting out a call for tenders on the project, estimated at about $2.5 million, next week.
That news discouraged Andrea Lenny, whose husband Ed Crombie owns Crombie Transport.
The couple gathered 777 names during the winter on a petition against the roundabout. They met with Kamloops-North Thompson MLA Terry Lake to discuss their concerns.
Friday’s news that the roundabout — made wider than the original plan to make it easier for big trucks to navigate — was going ahead left Lenny feeling defeated.
“I’m burnt out. We’ve tried and tried and tried,” she said.
“I just know I’m tired of fighting them and obviously nobody’s worried about the safety issue.”
The B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure held two public open house sessions on Feb. 7 in response to the couple’s concerns and petition.
Lenny called it nothing more than a photo op.
“They didn’t want to hear the naysayers. They just wanted a photo-op and to show what the new revised one looked like,” she said.
“It’s wider and they’ve done a (computer) simulation. A lot of expense went into this. Colour photos and simulation and stuff. A simulated truck going around a simulated road.”
The concern she and her husband have is that truckers will have to slow down to get around the traffic circle. In winter, it will be difficult to see because of snow, and the visibility on Highway 5 in Clearwater is often clouded by fog as well.
“The roundabout isn’t warranted. We’re just being guinea pigs,” she said.
“I feel that money could be better spent putting turning lanes and lights in.”
Lake said the response he heard at the February open house was mostly positive. People in Clearwater had expressed concern about traffic speeding through the community on the highway, near a school, hockey rink and shopping centre.
“It’s hard to get 100 per cent agreement. I’ve learned in public life, with public consultation, you’re trying to get understanding of what you’re trying to do,” he said.
He felt the simulation changed people’s minds in favour of the roundabout.
“We had 90 or so comments handed in. The vast majority, about 75 per cent, were very positive. People came up to me at that session and said they supported it. A lot of people said that to me one on one, who wouldn’t stand up in front of a crowd.”
The traffic circle will slow traffic down and signal to drivers they are at Clearwater.
“It’s going out to tender now. It’s in the $2.5-million range. We hope to get construction started this spring. They’ll do the timing so that the impact on tourist season is as minimal as possible.”
Lenny’s mind was not changed, but she has no more fight left.
“I’m done. If not enough people got up on their hind legs and went to bat, then the town can suffer the consequences. I don’t even have to go into town if I don’t want to. I can just go to Kamloops. There’s so many elderly people who are upset about it but the general attitude is, it’s government and they’re going to do what they want to do so why even bother?” she said.
“The first really bad accident that happens in the middle of a snow storm or, spring and fall, we get fog that goes right to the ground, the minute that happens and there’s an accident and somebody’s hurt, well, that’s what’s going to happen. It’s not if, it’s when.”