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Opinion: Too many tragedies on Ladner Trunk Road lately

It will soon take a little more time to traverse Delta’s busiest farm road -- and that’s not a bad thing.
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It will soon take a little more time to traverse Delta’s busiest farm road — and that’s not a bad thing.

 The speed limit will drop to 70 km/h next year on the rural portion of Ladner Trunk Road.The speed limit will drop to 70 km/h next year on the rural portion of Ladner Trunk Road. Photograph By file photo/Delta Optimist

Civic politicians did the expected late last month when they approved a staff recommendation to reduce the speed limit on Ladner Trunk Road, a move prompted by a spate of fatal collisions earlier this decade. The speed limit will drop to 70 km/h next year on the rural portion of Ladner Trunk in an effort to reduce the number and severity of crashes.

Part highway, part farm road, Ladner Trunk shouldn’t be an accident waiting to happen given it’s a straight, flat stretch of asphalt, but it’s been the site of too many tragedies recently. A Delta Police Department analysis in 2017 found that driver error was the leading cause of these collisions, so it stood to reason that modifying behaviour, and not the road itself, was the route that was going to be followed.

I opined in the past that something had to be done to address the carnage, so it was either a choice of reducing the speed limit or widening the road and installing a median down the middle. I don’t think the latter was ever seriously considered, primarily because of cost implications, but also due to the message it would send drivers.

When speaking on this issue a couple of years ago, then mayor Lois Jackson rightly suggested that Ladner Trunk is a farm road, and that if people were in a hurry to get somewhere, they would be better served using the nearby highways where the speed limit is higher. Ladner Trunk is a convenient way to get to points east and turns into a highway once it reaches the Highway 91 interchange, but the narrow, two-lane farm road through the Delta’s agricultural community simply isn’t set up to handle the speed and volume of the traffic it carries today.

Slowing down traffic by 10 km/h isn’t going to prevent all crashes, although it should reduce the severity of those that do happen, but just as importantly the move will send a message to drivers by reinforcing the notion that Ladner Trunk is, and always has been, a farm road.

If you make the conscious decision not to use the highways, where the speed limit is far greater than the than 70 km/h along Trunk Road, then be prepared for your journey to take a little longer.