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Deadly Highway 1 causes Revestoke funeral director to call for improvements

03/18/2015 05:55 EDT | Updated 05/18/2015 05:59 EDT
Revelstoke Funeral director Gary Sulz is urging the province to make improvements to a stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway between Golden and Revelstoke, notorious among locals for crashes — many of them fatal — and closures.

The deadly stretch of road has seen 46 fatalities between 2004 and 2013 according to ICBC.

Sulz, who is also a city councillor, assists the coroner every time someone dies.

"It definitely takes its toll. It takes its toll on myself, the coroner, the police, fire rescue personnel and even the tow truck people" he told Daybreak South's Chris Walker.

The road itself winds 148 kilometres through the Purcell Mountains where many sections are two lanes with no barrier between them. 

Sulz said some locals call it a "goat trail."

"The road is very windy and very high, so you can go from one section that's very bare and within 10 kilometres be into a snow storm and another 10 kilometres you're clear," he said.

He wants to see the highway become four lanes with a barrier throughout the entire stretch, but understands that will be expensive and take time.

In the meantime he wants to see better maintenance on the road.

"During the winter time, the local people do the maintenance that they're needed and required to do, but maybe that's not enough," he said.

Sulz has met with Minister of Transportation Todd Stone, and said the minister was "very receptive" to his appeal.

"When we state facts as to how many people are dying on our roads, it becomes a provincial issue. Not everybody that's dying on those roads are local," he said.

Stranded travellers seek refuge at church

The frequent crashes and unpredictable weather conditions lead to frequent closures — sometimes days at a time.

The C3 Church in Revelstoke often takes in travellers who find themselves stranded.

"We'll send out a tweet or Facebook and people just start showing up," said lead pastor Dave Olson.

"They've gone out for dinner. They've gone checked the hotels. They don't know what to do."

Olson said it started with a call from the Chamber of Commerce asking them to provide a warm space.

"People eat and they bring games out. We usually throw a movie on for the kids and do what we can to help people out and try to find a spot for them to stay overnight."

A frequent question is "how long is it going to be?" something Olsen said he never has an answer for — it can be anywhere from a few hours to a few days.

To hear more on this story, click the audio labelled:

- Gary Sulz urges changes to deadly highway

- Highway closures strand travellers

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