Prioritize overpass

A public safety hazard.

The Sande Overpass is a vital link between the north and south sides of Terrace, the quickest route for first responders, the preferred course for commuters and at the end of the day it’s simply a busy highway – the main artery of the Northwest (but you wouldn’t know that looking at the snarl of intersections, array of lights and sharp turns). But as far back as 1986 when when Simone Duplissie was instantly killed here by an overturned logging truck – speeding round the the turns, tipping and spilling its load – the design flaws were acknowledged as a public safety hazard.

According to news reports of the day, the Terrace RCMP, Ministry of Highways and the district coroner all concurred truck traffic through the city should be either redirected, or the overpass should be resigned at the province’s expense.

Last Monday’s overturned logging truck should be a bombshell reminder to elected officials of the dangers posed to city drivers. If a single car had been in the opposite lane someone would most certainly have died. We hope this small miracle in no way dilutes the earnestness of the investigation.

Since Monday’s accident our Facebook page has filled up with recollections of Duplissie’s death and tales of many more tragedies narrowly averted. Divert truck traffic or expand the overpass. While unconfirmed, one poster claims to have watched a car swerve out of the path of Monday’s tipping truck and its load.

In 1986 speed was determined to be the mitigating cause, as the driver raced to the scales before they closed for the day. Noting further hazards, an RCMP report to city council stated the narrow lanes and accute turns require semi tailer trucks to infringe on adjacent lanes. When logging trucks enter the equation, their rear load overhang generally swings into another lane.

Maybe it’s time today’s council dusts off that report and starts banging on the door to the Ministry of Highways to fix the problem. At the time the ministry said due to significant costs their work on the overpass would be done as time and resources allow, “but this is not a high priority.”

It’s been 33 years since Simone Duplissie’s death, but even that didn’t make truck traffic a priority. What scale of tragedy does the ministry need to see to make it so?

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