The proposed passing lane is designed to provide drivers with safe passing opportunities. Phil McLachlan/The Free Press

The proposed passing lane is designed to provide drivers with safe passing opportunities. Phil McLachlan/The Free Press

Positive feedback for Jaffray passing lane

Jaffray residents seem to be in favour of a new proposed Highway 3 passing lane, according to feedback in an open house on November 13.

The newly proposed 2.5 kilometre, westbound passing lane is designed to provide drivers leaving Jaffray with additional safe passing opportunities, and improve traffic flow and capacity through the area.

Kootenay-East MLA Tom Shypitka said it was great to see so many people attend and show interest in the project at the open house.

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure attended to provide locals with information on the project as well as answer questions.

The Free Press previously reported that BC’s Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, Claire Trevena, said that westbound traffic leaving Jaffray regularly gets backed up, and added that she believed the passing lane would make it easier and safer for people to pass slower moving vehicles.

The Ministry explained that once public engagement is complete and the design is finalized, the project will be tendered early in 2020. Construction on the 2.5 kilometre passing lane is expected to begin next spring and finish in late 2020.

Shypitka said he heard support from the public regarding the passing lane project, and added that he would like to eventually see more passing opportunities put in place on Highway 3 from Cranbrook to the Alberta border, or at least to Sparwood.

“The traffic there in the mornings and at night during shift work at the mines, gets pretty crazy,” he said.

“When you’re late for work and the weather conditions aren’t great, and you’re looking for any chance to pass, and you don’t have those opportunities, that’s when sometimes common sense goes out the window and you start doing things you maybe shouldn’t be doing,” said Shypitka.

Although this passing lane is seen as a good thing, Shypitka said that he has heard from residents for years about the dangers associated with the passing opportunity currently in place on Highway 3 in the Jaffray townsite.

With heavy traffic during the summer, Shypitka has heard from the residents that having a westbound passing opportunity in the townsite with many people turning left off the highway creates a dangerous situation. Shypitka said that when he learned of this new passing opportunity proposed for west of the townsite, he approached the Ministry about removing the passing opportunity in the townsite and turning it into a solid line.

“I think they’re going to consider it,” said Shypitka. “I gave the option – why don’t we take the westbound passing opportunity away, have a solid line on the westbound and a dotted line on the eastbound in Jaffray, so that you’re only passing going east, which would alleviate the real risk and that’s a lot of those lefthand turns heading westbound.”

Shypitka said MOTI’s regional manager considered this a good idea and Shypitka said he’s hopeful.

With regard to the completion of the new proposed passing lane, Shypitka said he hopes to see it completed by Fall 2020, just in time for the closure of the Trans Canada Highway in northern B.C.

With this closure, the MLA anticipates heavy traffic increases along Highway 3.