Four city intersections warrant better safety measures according to a traffic study of 15 city intersections.
The city’s review, which looked at the triggers for four-way stops and traffic signals, as well as collision and volume data at each intersection, was in response to a member of the public calling on city council to install a traffic light at Maryland and Highway 19A.
Stan Zuke, who lives on Wisconsin Way in the Maryland subdivision, told council during budget deliberations last December that increased traffic in the area due to neighbourhood development poses a safety threat.
“I am concerned about my family and I’m concerned about my neighbours,” Zuke said at last year’s Dec. 5 city budget meeting. “We’ve got a major issue. The traffic is getting to the point we can no longer put up with the traffic at the corner of Maryland and Island Highway without a control light. I think it will give a lot of peace of mind.”
The city, in response, took a look at Maryland and Highway 19A, as well as other key intersections that are not currently controlled by traffic lights.
The traffic study confirms that Zuke’s concerns are valid. It found that Highway 19A and Maryland meets the warrants for a three-way stop as well as the criteria for a traffic light. Traffic counts revealed a total entering volume of 1,077 vehicles per hour.
“The fact that the only way out of this neighbourhood are the three streets onto Highway 19A, one could make the argument that a traffic signal is needed at either Maryland or Colorado,” states a report on the city’s traffic study.
ICBC collision data from 2011 to 2015 shows three collisions in five years (an average of 0.6 per year) and five crashes in five years at Highway 19A and Maryland over the same time period.
According to the study, the top four that warrant upgrades, based on council policy, BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure Guidelines, and Transportation and Association of Canada Guidelines, are: Alder Street and 2nd Avenue, Alder Street and Merecroft Road, Highway 19A and Colorado or Maryland, and Ironwood and 16th Avenue.
The warrants are based on: volume split (major street compared to minor street), volumes on the major street and volumes on the minor street, average delay on the minor street, collision record, interim basis prior to the installation of a traffic signal, and interim basis prior to switching the direction of the two-way stops.
At Alder and 2nd Avenue, which is currently controlled by a four-way stop but meets the threshold for a traffic light, 22 collisions between 2011 to 2015 were reported, while at Alder and Merecroft there were 10 collisions recorded over those same five years.
The intersection rounding out the top four that warrant upgrades – Ironwood and 16th – warrants either a three-way stop or a traffic light, with that intersection seeing 16 collisions between 2001 and 2015, according to ICBC data.
While the study recommends council hold off on actually upgrading those top four intersections to multi-way stops or full traffic signals until adequate funds are available, the city report does suggest converting Ironwood and 16th to a three-way stop in the interim.
Melissa Heidema, transportation specialist for the city, said intersection upgrades are costly and therefore don’t happen frequently.
“The cost of installing stop signs at intersections can vary but will typically be under $5,000,” Heidema said. “The typical cost of installing traffic signals at existing city intersections is approximately $250,000.
“The city’s current financial plan has provisions for the installation of one new traffic signal (or alternately the complete reconstruction of one existing traffic signal) every three years,” Heidema added.
She said that because of that, the city conducts thorough technical reviews of an intersection, including traffic volume, volume split, delay, and collision records before recommending upgrades to council.
Heidema said the city has been approached several times by members of the public asking for traffic controls, specifically traffic signals, which prompted the city’s most recent review of key intersections.
In addition to the four that warrant upgrades, the city also looked at the following intersections: Highway 19A/2nd Avenue, and Shoppers Row/10th Avenue – both of which meet the threshold for a traffic signal but are recommended by the city to remain as they are, a stop sign and a four-way stop respectively – as well as Dogwood Street/Erickson, Highway 19A/Washington, Ironwood/9th, Petersen Road/16th Avenue, Petersen/Cheviot, Petersen/Evergreen, Petersen/Willis and Shoppers Row/11th Avenue – all of which do not meet the warrants for a traffic light.