New signs confound motorists

by Glen Korstrom
Northern News Services

NNSL (Feb 04/98) - A car slides and skids to a near halt at a new stop sign near Air Tindi on the airport service road, the driver appearing to have just noticed the nine new signs.

"Over five years there have been eight serious accidents there," says airport manager Tom Cook. "There was one where a person had to be extricated."

Cook requested the signs, which, despite complaints, seem to be working.

The speed limit is 30 km/h on the stretch but motorists often take the wide serpentine corners at dizzying speeds, according to several people who work in the area.

"Everybody whizzes by," says Kara Robinson, who works at Canadian Airlines. "But not any more."

Still, some nearby workers say the road is slipperier than it used to be because of so much braking.

"It's slowing traffic, but I think the road is more slippery with everyone applying their brakes," says Wayne White, who works at the Department of National Defence.

And Cook sympathizes with complaints like White's.

At January's monthly safety meeting, Cook says the airport created a committee to investigate other ways to control speed.

Further, Cook says the road is sanded regularly and for January in Yellowknife it is as slip-free as any road could reasonably be.

But for many Yellowknifers it will take a while to get used to the three sets of three-way stops which went up all of a sudden.

"We went for lunch and came back and there were the signs," says Alex Arychuk, who works for Air Tindi.

Arychuk says he has seen some close calls, but no accidents.

Some of the close calls may be related to slow-moving baggage carts using the service road along with large industrial trucks and truck-sweeper combinations stretching to about 25 metres long.

"If everybody would go the speed limit there would be no problem," Cook says. "But people did not go the speed limit."

Likely preferable than regular radar traps for most Yellowknifers, the signs are a new focus of jibes.

"Did you come to a full and complete stop?" Robinson asks with a smile.