Thursday, July 31, 2008

Sea to SKy Highway Closure

Everyone is worrying about the slide that cut Whistler off from direct access to Vancouver. What everyone seems to forget is that the Sea to Sky highway continues on all the way to the Sky end of it - the start of the Cariboo.

Getting from Whistler to Kamloops is about about a three to four hour trip on the Hwy 99 and then Hwy 97. Kamloops has a significant airport in it that can service most jets. The trip from the Vancouver Airport to Whistler is two hours. Kamloops is only marginally further away.

Driving from Whistler to Seattle via Vancouver takes you about four hours. Driving to Seattle via the Fraser Canyon takes about six hours.

What the government should be looking at for the Olympics is an upgrade of Highway 99 from Pemberton to Lillooet and Highway 12 from Lillooet to Lytton. The simple reality is that the route from Lillooet to Whistler is more likely to be open in the winter than the road from Whistler to Vancouver.

Lillooet is the closest site northwards from Whistler where you can reliably land a plane. The government needs to put money into that airport now to make it ready to serve the Olympics as it is the best option for getting people to the area in the winter.

The last time there was a longer blockage of the road was in May 1996 when there was a major slide near the former town of Garibaldi between Squamish and Whistler. The road was closed for about six weeks that time. Whistler did not die because of it.

The Olympic Committee has to promote both directions out of Whistler in the Olympics.
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