Ballam Road barriers get a rough ride from Chilliwack resident Sandy Ritchie. (Jennifer Feinberg/ The Progress)

Ballam Road barriers get a rough ride from Chilliwack resident Sandy Ritchie. (Jennifer Feinberg/ The Progress)

Ballam Road barriers get a rough ride from Chilliwack resident

Barriers installed to keep errant vehicles out of the river, and stop garbage-dumpers

The new barriers along Ballam Road are meant to keep errant vehicles from landing in the Fraser River.

There have been unfortunate incidents over the years on the riverside part of Ballam Road — some fatal, as well as endless trash dumping, and stolen car dumps.

Recent road improvements including paving and the new barriers, will help prevent illegal dumping, which will in turn help protect the river, according to City of Chilliwack officials.

But some locals hold a different view.

“What they’ve done out here is a nightmare,” resident Sandy Ritchie said. “It seems so misguided.”

He’s a former roads supervisor and heavy equipment operator, as well as a leader and volunteer for several sport-fishing advocacy groups.

He hosted The Progress on a tour of the newly paved section of Ballam Road, complete with mini barriers along one side of the road. He thinks the barriers should be moved to the edge of the shoulder.

“In trying to make it safer, they’ve effectively denied everyone access to the river along here,” Ritchie said. “Just two kilometres out of town, this is a jewel of a river spot.”

All of the shoulder is now blocked off. He points to his favourite cutthroat fishing spot not far from Gill Road.

“It’s also the wrong design,” he said about the mini barriers, which should be a larger model known as a “690” barrier. He calls it “cheaping” out.

“Those barriers are not designed for traffic safety. They won’t stop a vehicle sliding on black ice. They will provide a false sense of security.”

There were a number of reasons for paving Ballam Road and putting up barriers, according to city officials. Keeping errant vehicles out of the river is a priority, and that is one reason for installing the barriers.

But another reason is the ongoing work on the Experience the Fraser Trail. The aim is to separate the trail from traffic, which will provide a better experience for trail users, said staff.

They plan to provide parking at the west end of the trail, for about four vehicles, and are planning to put another parking area on the east end of the ETF trail.

Eventually the Experience the Fraser Trail will have more parking areas and amenities.

But for Ritchie, it won’t be the same.

“It’s mean-spirited to cut off access like this.”