Tumbler Ridge, BC

February 4, 2008

Dear Editor:

In his recent ?Police Blotter,? Corporal Peats referred to the horrendous accident that claimed a life recently on the highway to Dawson Creek. My understanding of that particular collision is that swirling snow on that day reduced visibility, but in other cases whenever I hear of accidents or near-misses, I often wonder whether the condition of the highway out of Tumbler Ridge is partly to blame. I do not understand why the first fifty kilometres or so out of town generally has a permanent hard pack of snow on it, but the last fifty kilometres is generally snow free. The same is true of the highway to Chetwynd. One assumption is that the road-clearing crews out of Dawson Creek or Chetwynd do a better job on their half of the highway than do the crews out of Tumbler Ridge.

I was at a meeting of Council recently when the local provincial highway manager made a presentation and Councillor Colledge remarked that there generally seemed to be an obvious ?demarcation line? on Highway 52 where you could tell that the Dawson Creek crew had reached their southern boundary. His reply was that it was simply a matter of timing ? the Dawson Creek crew maybe started work on the highway first and once the local crew had attended to their portion, the highway would be the same all the way to Dawson Creek. But that simply isn?t true. Even several days after a snowfall, the centre line painted on the highway out of Tumbler Ridge is simply not visible due to packed snow. That poses an obvious safety hazard.

I suppose an argument can be made that there are more trees near Tumbler Ridge which create more shade on the highway and therefore the sun cannot dry the snow as readily as it does nearer to Dawson Creek, but I find that an inadequate answer. After all, we are further south and our temperatures generally are a bit warmer than Dawson Creek. Whatever the reason, it is disconcerting, especially at night, when driving into Tumbler Ridge, coming face to face with another vehicle and you don?t know whether or not you are encroaching on his lane or he is encroaching on yours, because neither of you can see the centre line. So you pull over as far as you dare to the side, but you can?t see the shoulder marking either. Driving to Dawson Creek and back is a gamble, and that?s not how it should be.


Bob Norman