Motorists not slowing down for Yellowhead Bridge construction work

RCMP officers check for speeders on the Yellowhead Bridge on Highway 16 east of the city. Bill Phillips photo
RCMP officers check for speeders on the Yellowhead Bridge on Highway 16 east of the city. Bill Phillips photo

When you drive down the hill by the jail there is a big sign saying there’s construction work on the bridge and the speed limit through the zone is 50km/h.

When you round the corner and head to the bridge deck, SpeedWatch volunteers are manning one of those electronic signs that tell you exactly how fast you’re going … a not-so-gentle reminder that if you’re speeding, you need to slow down.

So, when you get to the bottom end of the bridge, the RCMP officers manning a speed-trap have little sympathy for those who ignored the very obvious signs.

“It’s really a three-strike system,” said Cpl. Craig Douglass, RCMP communications officer. “They have three chances to slow down and they’re just not.”

In early July, the Prince George RCMP received a traffic complaint regarding the construction zone located along Highway 16 on the Yellowhead Bridge in Prince George. Concerns were raised about motorists ignoring construction zone speed signs throughout the two-kilometre zone.  Work on the bridge has reduced the four-lane bridge to single-lane in both directions.

RCMP officers from the Municipal Traffic Section and RCMP Volunteers from the Community Policing Section attended the area throughout July and August and found many motorists aren’t slowing down.

 “Of the 2,864 vehicles observed, 89 per cent or 2,461 vehicles were observed travelling above the posted speed limit,” said Mike Burt, Community Policing program coordinator.  “What was even more concerning was that 258 or 10 per cent of the speeding vehicles were traveling in excess of 21 kilometres per hour over the posted 50 kilometre per hour construction zone speed limit.  The highest speed recorded was at 104 kilometres hour.” 

The speeding motorists were not just those in personal vehicles, but over 50 commercial and business vehicles were recorded traveling over 21 kilometres per hour. One of the excuses from drivers is that they were slowing down when they were caught on radar. That doesn’t cut it.

“You have to be going 50 kilometres per hour by the time you get to the sign,” says Douglass, adding people also speed up as soon as they go past the construction area. However, motorists shouldn’t speed up until they reach the end of the actual construction zone.

Speed enforcement has been conducted in the construction zone on multiple occasions.  

 If you were one of those drivers not stopped by RCMP officers, you might have received a warning letter in the mail from the Community Policing Section explaining the offence(s) observed and what the penalty could have been. 

The Prince George RCMP’s Community Policing Section have deployed a speed watch trailer on the site to provide a visual for motorists in hopes of educating drivers on their speed. 

Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure spokesperson Pat Preston. Bill Phillips photo
Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure spokesperson Pat Preston. Bill Phillips photo

Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure spokesperson Pat Preston says that while there haven’t been any incidents of workers being hit on the bridge, there have been close calls.

“It’s necessary, quite often, that the workers have to be close to the traffic lanes,” he says. “It’s just not safe to have vehicles going over 50 kilometres per hour.”

The detachment’s Municipal Traffic Services Section will continue to deploy officers into this and other construction zones at various times in order to conduct speed enforcement.  RCMP Volunteers will continue to provide educational enforcement until the road construction season is completed in October.

The Prince George RCMP wish to remind drivers that speed limits are in effect from the time you reach the speed sign until the time you get to the next one.  Drivers must be traveling at the posted speed before they get to the speed sign.  Motor Vehicle Act fines for speeding in a construction zone range from $196 to $253.  Drivers traveling in excess of 40 kilometres per hour over the speed limit are subject to excessive speeding charges that include fines of up to $483 and the impounding of their vehicle.