Traffic lights are coming to downtown Princeton.
On Saturday, Dec. 18, crews began prepping sites at the intersections of Highway 5A and Bridge Street, and Highway 3 and Bridge Street, for traffic light installation.
The B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure approved the project last week, and is paying 100 per cent of the cost through emergency funding, says Mayor Spencer Coyne.
When the Coquihalla closed due to flood washouts last month, Highway 3 and Highway 5A formed the only corridor between the Lower Mainland and the Interior, creating congestion and dangerous situations in the community.
It’s a longterm problem, according to Coyne.
“When I was on council almost 20 years ago, we were talking about it then,” said Coyne.
“I hope it makes everybody feel safer. There are going to be controlled crosswalks.
“People will have to stop and hopefully we will avoid some of the accidents we have had around there, and the near misses.”
Nov. 14, when the Coquihalla shut down, Coyne donned a high-visibility vest and directed traffic at the Highway 5A intersection.
It wasn’t the first time Coyne has stepped in, when highway closures stress the town’s infrastructure.
In August 2021 wildfires closed major thoroughfares and the mayor took to his personal Facebook page, posting a video rant from the intersection of Highway 5A, Bridge Street, and Highway 3.
“This is a joke. Where the hell is the province?” he asked then. “I am absolutely disgusted that we still don’t have any support from the province on traffic control.”
While the controversial intersections are within town limits, both highways fall under provincial jurisdiction.
In addition to the safety improvements, Coyne said he believes there is an economic opportunity here for the community.
“There could be a huge economic benefit for any business.”
More than two million vehicles pass by Princeton on Highway 3 each year, he noted.
“Everyone who has to drive through here, they may have to stop. If they stop they might have to look around…If we could get even one per cent of that it would be astronomical.”
The traffic lights will be permanent installations, said Coyne, and should be operational by the end of January.
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