Some motorists stuck in traffic on the way to Cultus Lake were fuming over the weekend.
Traffic tie-ups at the Vedder Bridge backed things up to Keith Wilson Road in Chilliwack and beyond.
Last week a ruling by Worksafe BC prohibited the use of traffic control personnel at two spots near the Vedder Bridge, due to safety reasons.
Within a day or so, City of Chilliwack staff brainstormed an interim solution by installing a traffic light that could be manually controlled by staff on the weekends to help keep the heavy traffic moving.
“They managed to hand-craft a traffic control device with the equipment parts they had available, just in time for the weekend, but there was no left turn signal option, and they knew that would be necessary,” said Mayor Sharon Gaetz. “It was done quickly, to get something in place and the part was ordered.”
Drivers trying to turn onto Chilliwack Lake Road from Vedder Road over the weekend created the congestion as they waited to turn, sometimes as far back as Promontory Road.
City staff have confirmed it won’t be possible to install a dedicated left turn lane, but the light can be modified.
The part that will effectively add a left turn option to the light signal was due to be installed later this week, said Gaetz.
“I cannot imagine what the weekend was like near the bridge, especially for anyone without air conditioning in the vehicle. I understand there were lineups and people were frustrated,” she said. “We can’t do anything about the ruling by Worksafe. We hope members of the public will be patient, and avoid the area if at all possible.”
People were quick to weigh in on social media about the new light, and the heavy traffic heading to Cultus in the absence of flaggers.
Sitel Ala complained the traffic to Cultus was backing up all the way to Promontory.
“The new light system is worse than ever. Way to go Chilliwack city. Awesome job.”
But Janet Turner said she expected city staff to fix things, like coming up with a left turning option.
“I’m quite certain after the first weekend with the light, they will look to tweak how it’s running/timed,” she posted. “I highly doubt they would just leave it.”
The turn signal part that city staff ordered to facilitate the left turns, came in on Monday, and should be installed and tested by later week.
Carol Kelly, an area resident for 48 years, noted traffic is congested in July and August since Cultus Lake has “always attracted tourists,” and that is not likely to be changing any time soon.
“The light will eventually help,” she offered. “The best way not to have a problem with it is don’t travel that way if you don’t like it.”
The new traffic light is expected to be in place until construction is completed on the new Vedder bridge and roundabout in 2018. Work is expected to begin on that project in 2016.
“We are so thankful that the Vedder Bridge replacement project received funding from all levels of government recently,” said Gaetz.