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What's with the tree clearing on Highway 101?

Road safety improvements in the works near Joe / Orange roads
N. Man in tree
A worker near Joe/Orange Road shortly after cutting off the top of a tree. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure says the tree clearing work is in preparation for safety improvements in the area.

Travellers on the southern section of Highway 101 have had to schedule in a few extra minutes into their commute in recent weeks, but why? 

Tree clearing along the highway near Joe/Orange Road, resulting in one-lane traffic and some delays, is in preparation for a project to improve safety at the intersection, said Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) in an emailed statement. 

Protected left-turn lanes eastbound and westbound are planned along with adjustments to the intersection's "overall alignment," said MOTI. 

The upgrades were part of the Highway 101 corridor study released in fall 2020 that recommends more than $20 million in improvements between the Langdale ferry terminal and the southern end of Redrooffs Road. 

There were eight collisions near the intersection of Highway 101 and Joe/Orange Road between 2013 and 2017, said the report, including seven off-road and one rear-ending.

Joe/Orange Road is "one of the busiest unsignalized intersections between Gibsons and Sechelt, providing a connection to Lower Road and many residential properties on either side of the highway," said the report. "It is also one of the most collision-prone locations."

"The existing intersection has no acceleration, deceleration, or turning lanes for vehicles turning on or off the highway, which together likely result in delays for through-traffic and the risk of collisions," it said. 

The report estimates the improvement costs at $2 million and projects a reduction in traffic accidents of 0.8 per year on average.

The project is out to tender. Should the contract be successfully awarded, the construction is expected to start this spring, according to MOTI. 

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