City considers safety improvements on Willis

City staff is recommending council approve pedestrian safety measures along Willis Road

City staff is recommending council approve pedestrian safety measures along Willis Road.

The work involves widening the south shoulder roughly 600 metres to allow pedestrians and cyclists safe passage down Willis which has long been a safety concern of council’s.

Clinton Crook, senior buyer for the city, said the project would also involve underground infrastructure improvements.

“Included in the project are the undergrounding of the storm pipe system on the south side of the road (Carolyn to Petersen); and two improved storm water crossing locations, to connect the open ditch along the north side of the roadway,” Crook said. “Fish habitat will be maintained to Fisher Creek and future improvements will be undertaken downstream of this location to enhance spawning ground opportunities.”

At Tuesday’s council meeting, which took place after the Mirror went to press, city staff was recommending council award the project to Wacor Holdings Ltd. for $262,931.

That bid, however, exceeds the $100,000 budget council set aside for the pedestrian improvements during financial planning last December.

Crook said that because the project includes the storm water work and fish habitat protection, storm drainage funding in the 2016 financial plan worth $125,000 could be applied. That would leave $35,000 for paving and $30,000 for engineering and professional services outstanding.

Crook said that funding from the city’s capital plan could be taken from cycling infrastructure ($15,000) and the sidewalk infill program ($90,000) to make up the remainder.

The project has been on the city’s radar for some time.

Willis, with its narrow shoulders and deep ditches, has long been a hazard for pedestrians and drivers who at times have had to swerve into the oncoming traffic lane to avoid people walking along the shoulder.

The road has been a topic of discussion for several years among at least two different city councils but city staff have always maintained that long-term solutions will cost in the multi-millions of dollars.

Widening the shoulder is a cheaper, short to mid-term solution that council approved last winter after a pedestrian was hit by a vehicle while walking down the side of the road and knocked into the ditch.

Last December, Coun. Larry Samson said it was imperative that council do something to improve safety along Willis, particularly when taking into consideration the residents at nearby Palmer Place which houses disabled and at-risk persons who use Willis to walk down to the bus stop on Petersen Road.

“These people have no means of transport, we have to provide the infrastructure for them to be able to move around without having to go into a ditch,” Samson said. “We need to take the $100,000 and we look at it again and again until it’s completed.”