Condo residents at Victoria Court point to the recent death of a deer on the Old Island Highway in front of their complex as a sign the route is potentially dangerous for people.
During the day on April 27, a truck driving along that stretch of the highway hit a pregnant doe that tried to avoid the vehicle.
“In the last year, we’ve had two deer killed,” strata president Earl Kierstead said.
The stretch of highway at Rotary Beach Park is within city limits and has a 60 km/h speed zone, though residents haven seen motorists driving through the corrridor at higher than posted speeds. Regarding these incidents, it could be a matter of driver inattention combined with speed.
“It’s hard to find out how fast they’re coming down,” resident Claude Belanger said. “Now, there’s more traffic…. It seems like they going faster and faster…. There’s nothing to slow them down.”
Belanger heard the recent accident and went to see what happened.
“It was a deer that got hit, but it could’ve been an old lady,” he said.
The animal had almost made it across the highway but was hit in the back. When Belanger saw the animal, the driver had gone. Both animal control and the police were called to deal with the situation. The animal was badly injured and had to be euthanized.
None of this comes as a surprise to Belanger because of people’s driving habits combined with the presence of deer in the area.
“We have all this forest behind us,” he said. “They’re everywhere.”
The most important safety question, according to Kierstead, is safe access into their complex.
“Our big concern here is traffic,” he said. “In the afternoon here it’s just unbelievable.”
Often, drivers try to turn into the lot, even over the double line on the highway. Without any dedicated left-turn lane, this presents safety issues. Drivers trying to make a turn might be sitting there for five minutes. Sometimes, other drivers get backed up, with some pulling over to the shoulder to pass.
“They pass you on the curb,” Belanger said. “I’ve seen them doing it at the crosswalk.”
Adding to the challenge is that Victoria Court and other multi-family residential complexes along the stretch are pinned in by a steep slope behind their buildings, with no alternate routes in and other of the sites. Victoria Court has two buildings of approximately 50 units each, but it is only one of the complexes in the area. Some of the residents at Victoria Court face mobility issues. Kierstead noted one example of an elderly woman with a cane who was trying to cross the road to get to the seaside but gave up because of the traffic.
“We’ve got a lot of people here who are older people,” he said.
There are a couple of crosswalks along the stretch to help pedestrians get across the road to the beach, but this does not always guarantee the road is safe.
“I see people going right through the crosswalk even when people are wanting to walk,” Belanger said.
At present, Kierstead said, it’s a regular occurrence to hear tires and brakes squeeling or horns honking, as too many drivers are trying to do many things, some of which are not allowed, at speeds higher than allowed.
For some Victoria Court residents, part of the solution could be more law enforcement or if the city lowers the speed limit, but Kierstead said the main point is still the need for a better way in and out of the site. They hope that drawing attention to these traffic issues will bring changes to improve safety.
“We would like to see a left-hand turn here,” he said. “They’ve got the room…. It makes it a lot safer for the owners of our development.”