Disaster recovery continues in this community of 2,800. Yet two months after the devastating flood, the talk of the town is the installation of two traffic lights.
“Some people really don’t like the idea of having a traffic light in town,” Princeton Mayor Spencer Coyne said in an interview.
“I don’t really understand it.”
Last month, the province approved more than $1 million in funding to install two sets of traffic lights; one at the intersection of Bridge Street and Highway 3, and another at the adjacent intersection of Highway 5A and Tapton Avenue.
As of Sunday, Jan. 16, the Highway 3 light was fully functioning, and the Highway 5A light installation was in progress and acting as a four-way stop.
Coyne told the Spotlight that traffic lights at these locations have been needed for at least 30 years, and petitions had been made to previous provincial governments.
At issue is heavy traffic during summer, in tourist season, and the bottleneck of cars and trucks in town whenever the Coquihalla Highway is closed.
The problem was highlighted following the Nov. 14 flood, when all traffic between the Lower Mainland and the province’s Interior was necessarily flowed through the two Princeton intersections.
“I think officials, for the first time, saw what we were actually talking about was that it was dangerous to keep our roads open when all the traffic was coming this way,” Coyne said.
The intersections, while within municipal boundaries, are the responsibility of the province.
Over the past weekend, Coyne posted a video to a community Facebook page, giving information about how to use a stoplight.
“That was (because) some concerns were raised with me that people were running the red light.”
Despite some initial negativity – the mayor said he heard people were promising to move from Princeton if the stoplights were installed – the community response has been generally positive.
The Spotlight received supportive comments, after asking for opinions on its Facebook page.
Martin Hough, who has observed close calls at the Highway 3 intersection, said: “It will be really nice to have a controlled pedestrian crossing of the highway at Bridge Street. Tourists can now come from the main shopping area and tourist information centre, and access the riverside walkway along the KVR, as well as the businesses on the south side of the highway, much more safely.”
Birch Parlee feels “the lights will be a terrific asset when it counts, when summer traffic is heavy.”
Theresa Antonick lives on Copper Mountain Road, and often travels the route several times a day. “The stoplight is not a long wait, so traffic flows pretty smoothly. There have been several accidents at that intersection, and many cars fly along that stretch. Glad to know it will help with slowing them down.”
The lights are great, said Lorraine Anderson. “Looks like Princeton grew up and (has) got big pants now.”
Coyne pointed out while the new lights have created a sensation, there have been lights at the entry to town, near the Husky, and lights at Highway 3 and Vermilion Avenue, for many years.
But there was a traffic light before even those.
“When I was growing up, we had one downtown,” said Coyne.
“We used to have a flashing light at Vermilion and Bridge Street (in the middle of downtown) when that was a five way intersection,.
“So technically, this ain’t our first light.”
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