Scott Maxwell, District Manager for the Peace District, says both the Ministry and Fort St. John have received a number of phone calls from citizens concerned about the safety of the trail.
"Instead of just closing the trail or doing anything like that, we said, in the meantime, as we were looking at the speed limit anyway, we'll reduce that to mitigate any concerns there for the the walking trail."
In the meantime, the speed limit on the entire bypass from 100 Street to 100 Avenue has been reduced to 50 kilometres an hour. Previously, the stretch past the Northern Lights College campus had a speed limit of 70 km/h, reduced to 60 km/h around the curve.
City Council recently voted to decommission the section of the walking trail along the East Bypass Road from 86 Street to 112 Avenue.The walking trail will remain as is until a decision is made by both the Ministry and the City of Fort St. John, who jointly constructed the trail. This part of the trail itself is within MOT right-of-way, while Fort St. John maintains it, so any longer-term decision would involve both sides.
"It is a partnership in that area and certainly if it's a service [the City of Fort St. John] wants to provide, we don't want them to cease maintenance," says Maxwell. "We also respect their decision to do so, because they don't want to put people at risk. We don't want to be putting people into an unsafe situation."
While reducing the speed to 50 kilometres an hour will slow traffic on the bypass, Maxwell says it's not enough to make a noticeable difference on the time it takes to go through the city.
"You might get a little bit of extra time, maybe a minute or two, going through the city," he speculates. "In this case, just due to all of the different accesses that come onto it, the increased pedestrian use, and just the growth of the city, we felt that it was reasonable to reduce the speed limit."
While there are no plans to move the bypass route in the short-term of the next few years, Maxwell says it could be a possibility in the long run as the Ministry and City look at a larger, more regional plan. The road safety audit is expected to be completed by the fall. The Ministry will be meeting with the City again next week.