LETTER: Island Highway traffic troubles following Dec. 20 storm could have been prevented

On the trip back from Nanaimo, the traffic bottleneck began at Lantzville

To the Editor,

After the storm, we made a trip to Nanaimo from Port Alberni and saw the monumental damage done by the Dec. 20 wind storm. Our mountain, Cathedral Grove, Cameron Lake, Little Qualicum Falls…all were disaster zones, showing just how much effort had gone into returning the road to a usable condition. Hard to believe our travel was not seriously impeded. That is, not until a couple of miles north of Nanoose when traffic slowed to a stop-and-go crawl.

We speculated on what might be the hold-up and 20 minutes later we could see a glaring example of bureaucracy inaction.

The traffic lights having lost power, the affected drivers were politely using a three-way stop and go procedure. The travelling public acted in the only safe and considerate manner available to them due to a total lack of involvement by our political leaders and the highway department.

I can accept an excuse for not having the foresight to engineer the traffic control system with back-up power, an oversight that should be rectified as quickly as feasible. I cannot excuse the sheer stupidity of not calling for human traffic control when the scope of the problem became so glaringly obvious.

On the trip back from Nanaimo, the traffic bottleneck began at Lantzville and took more that 45 minutes to pass through.

We were only inconvenienced for somewhat more than an hour but I’ve since talked to a number of people who experienced a much greater waste of their time. I’ve since learned, this bizarre situation was repeated all the way down to Victoria. If one were to add it up, the wasted hours would be many human lifetimes

The people who we’ve given the responsibility for traffic control stole that time. They were paid but did nothing to help the travelling public. I am displeased that I must pay salaries for traffic-planning experts who have no back-up plan for power-outages for highway traffic lights.

Taxpayer complacency suggests too few people are truly upset with the scale of government inconsideration they receive in return for paying all the bills. I hope to live to see the day that the Canadian taxpayer stops saying “I’m sorry” every time they get shortchanged by their political representatives.

Gary Seinen,

Port Alberni

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