Normally, when a speed limit change is being considered, or the installation of a new traffic signal of some kind is requested by the public, city council will ask its staff to look at the pros and cons, costs and traffic impacts before making a decision on it.
But at the Jan. 25 public meeting, without even a Notice of Motion to give advance notice to councilors, it was decided that the speed limit on Murphy Street will be lowered to 40 km/h and a four-way stop will be put in at the intersection of South Murphy and Pinecrest.
The move was spurred by a letter from Murphy Street resident Jim Johnson, who wrote to council inquiring as to how a pilot project like the one lowering the speed limit on Cheviot and Penfield Roads comes about, because he’d like one considered for Murphy Street, as well.
“The traffic calming project that gave us a sidewalk between Pinecrest and Alder has worked well, but speeding is still a problem,” Johnson writes. “This roadway has seen high traffic counts for the past year due to the Island Highway project, as it is used as a shortcut to get around the construction. During that time, we experienced road rage incidents, and a few accidents, but luckily no injuries that I know of. Please consider that every home on the ‘high side’ of the street has a steep driveway and yard that funnels everything to the roadway. If a child drops a ball, or a wagon or, heaven forbid, a wheelchair gets loose they all end up on the road out of control.”
While the letter was scheduled to be received by council, and would normally be forwarded to staff for consideration of options, Coun. Ron Kerr decided instead to immediately put a motion on the floor to lower the speed limit on Murphy Street.
“I don’t believe we need any more traffic counts, any more studies on this street,” Kerr says. “I think everyone knows that the street isn’t designed for the current use. It’s unsafe.”
Only Mayor Andy Adams voted against the motion, but not because he actually disagreed with its goal.
“I understand the premise,” Adams says. “I use that street every single day and recognize that there’s a problem, but I’m not sure that this is a sustainable way to go forward with all of the streets in Campbell River.”
Kerr followed that motion with another that would see the two-way stop at Pinecrest and Murphy turned into a four-way stop intersection.
“This one I will support,” Adams says. “I have seen many a vehicle coming down the steep hill on Pinecrest to that stop sign in wet, rainy weather or icy weather who come to that stop sign and slide right into oncoming traffic going at excess speeds.”
At this point, city manager Deborah Sargent reminded council that there are normally “a number of options and alternatives,” in situations like this and city staff would be happy to look into them and report back.
Those reports, “rather than this kind of ad-hoc voting on the fly, on motions that weren’t even given a Notice of Motion – which is another thing in terms of your procedural bylaw – give some time for reflection before you make decisions.”
Only Coun. Claire Moglove was in opposition to the four-way stop, as she would have preferred to see a report from staff before deciding, “as sometimes there are some unintended consequences.”
The four-way stop signage at South Murphy and Pinecrest was put in place the next day.
Staff will watch for any potential negative outcomes from these decisions and report back should any come to their attention, according to Drew Hadfield, the city’s director of operations.