Pedestrian death on Lougheed Hwy. prompts calls for safety improvements
Published Monday, April 16, 2018 12:53PM PDT
Last Updated Monday, April 16, 2018 7:19PM PDT
City officials in Maple Ridge are calling on British Columbia's government to address safety concerns along a notorious stretch of Lougheed Highway where a pedestrian was struck and killed last week.
"I would suggest the provincial government get off its butt and fix this highway," said Coun. Gordy Robson.
On Monday, Mounties said they're looking for witnesses who might have seen the suspect vehicle in a hit-and-run that left 32-year-old Tassis Vix dead.
Vix was walking in the 21800-block of Lougheed Highway shortly before 10 p.m. Thursday when she was fatally struck by a hit-and-run driver in a white 2017 Honda Civic.
The province is responsible for the highway and says safety improvements are on the way, including a widened Haney Bypass.
The $22.3-million joint investment by B.C. and the federal government includes plans to restrict left turns from Lougheed onto 222 Street and build a double right-hand turning lane from Lougheed onto the Haney Bypass.
But Robson said the designs leave a lot to be desired.
"Our engineers are saying that what they're trying to build is not safe," he said.
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, however, says it has held extensive consultations with Maple Ridge staff over the past two years.
"The ministry is confident that the final design will meet all safety and technical requirements as assessed by our highway design and traffic engineers," it said in a statement.
According to the province, only 50 per cent of the project has been designed.
B.C. officials met with city staff last week to discuss the details of the proposed safety improvements.
Police have not said exactly where Vix was when she was hit, but residents in the area say traffic lights are far apart and that crossing Lougheed without a crosswalk is risky.
"I think they need to put something in the middle or a pedestrian walk," said Laurie Smith, who knew Vix from the vet clinic where she worked.
"Within two blocks of that intersection, we've had probably killed 10 people over the past decade," Robson said. "If there was a pedestrian (crossing) at either end, which would be two blocks either way, I think we would prevent a lot of these from happening."
Police identified and located the vehicle on Saturday. Now, Ridge Meadows RCMP is asking anyone who saw the car between 9:45 p.m. and 10:10 p.m. that night or who has since seen a white Civic with front end damage to contact investigators at 604-463-6251. Tips can be left anonymously with Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).
Those who knew the victim remembered her as having "a huge heart."
"I just wanted to pay my respects because she was a really loving, caring girl," Smith said as she left flowers at a growing roadside memorial Monday.
Vix worked at Haney Animal Hospital, where her boss said she was a favourite among his patients and often went out of her way to help pet owners.
Friends who stopped by a memorial Friday said she left behind a young daughter.
"Our deepest condolences go out to the victim’s family and friends," Cpl. Amanda Harnett said in a statement Monday. "Our investigators are looking at all the evidence and request anyone who has any information to please call us."
With files from CTV Vancouver's Breanna Karstens-Smith