Lengthy MVI investigations put travelers at risk

Kelowna resident caught behind fatal MVI for hours says authorities need to find funding to improve response time as it creates safety risks

Editor,

My wife and I were one of what appeared to be several hundred people stuck on the Trans-Canada Highway following the serious MVI that occurred around 12:30 p.m. on Dec. 1.  Before expressing my various concerns, let me first applaud the first responders, highway maintenance and others who did a thorough job in what was clearly a very sad and traumatic situation. Also, my condolences and thoughts go out to the family and friends of the trucker who lost his life in the incident.

While it is clear to many that the cost to upgrade the stretch of highway between Revelstoke and Golden may be beyond the budgets of our current governments, it appears that there is also a shortage of the base funding or personnel to provide the necessary support required when an incident of this magnitude occurs. This incident occurred at 12:30 p.m. on a day of light snow and temperatures just at or below freezing temperatures. A long line of vehicles then waited for six or seven hours before the road was cleared.

I was told that the primary reason for the long delay was to allow for the transport of an accident investigator and associated equipment to the site and for the investigation to be concluded. While it is understandable that this is a necessary process, what is of serious concern to me is during this delay darkness fell, as well as the temperatures.

The vehicles traveling westbound toward Revelstoke were more than 100 kilometres from Golden and obviously could not get through to Revelstoke. As regular travelers of this highway will be aware, there are now no facilities of any kind at the summit of Rogers Pass other than a Parks centre. This was a situation of increasing risk for likely several hundred travelers stuck on the highway during this time.

At what point does the safety of hundreds of people trump the need for a full accident investigation? Or, if accident investigations are so important, why can the necessary people and equipment not be transported to the site quickly enough to minimize the risk to others through unnecessary delays?

Surely this is a matter of hundreds of thousands of dollars rather than multiple millions. This situation is intolerable and should be dealt with before further tragedy occurs.

John Matthews

Kelowna, B.C.