The BC government is about to pilot two new high-tech wildlife detection systems on Hwy #3 near Fernie, to help warn motorists when wildlife is on or near the highway.
There will be two locations for the wildlife detection systems on Hwy #3 – the Elko site, approximately one km east of Elko, and the Michel site, approximately two km east of Sparwood. These locations were selected for the pilot systems because of high numbers of elk and deer, which can often wander onto the highway and have the potential to cause serious crashes.
“As a part of our Rural Highway Safety and Speed Review, we looked at how we could help reduce wildlife caused crashes and boost safety on our highways,” said Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Todd Stone. “These flashing light warning signs will warn the driver if a large animal is on or near the highway, allowing the driver to slow down in order to prevent the crash.”
Mining industry workers use Hwy #3 as their commuting route between the Elk Valley and the mining sites, and the area draws thousands of skiers and snowboarders to enjoy the world-class ski hills. The new wildlife detection systems will help boost safety for industry workers, commercial truck drivers, locals, and tourists.
Installation is underway now, and following completion, there will be at least two months of testing to ensure the systems are working correctly before they go live.
Once activated, sensors will be triggered when large animals approach the highway. Flashing warning signs will light up, telling drivers to slow down to help them avoid hitting the animal.
“Our government is committed to improving safety for motorists and protecting our wildlife,” said Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett. “Hwy #3 between Cranbrook and Alberta is an important location to launch the new warning signs because this route is used heavily by mining industry workers, commercial vehicles, and those visiting the local ski hills. We will continue to improve safety for drivers and passengers.”
Ministry staff will monitor the data from these sites to see if there is a decrease in wildlife related crashes as a result of the new detection systems. This data will be examined to see if this is a viable solution for other parts of BC.
BC has numerous mitigation measures in place to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions. These include wildlife exclusion systems (over 500 km of fencing, overpasses and underpasses, etc), roadside mowing and clearing and advisory signs.
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has invested $2.5 million in this pilot project. The project is a recommendation resulting from the BC government’s Rural Highway Safety and Speed Review.