The newly-minted St. Ann’s roadwork is generating controversy after buses were forced to make a wide turn manouevre from Shoppers Row in order to negotiate a section of sidewalk jutting out into the roadway.

Wrong again, Campbell River mayor says of roadwork

Curb presents a problem for large vehicles, particularly city buses that can’t make the corner

“They’ve done it wrong.”

St. Ann’s may be freshly paved, have some fancy new rock work and new underground pipes but a new curb has the mayor – and some bus drivers – unimpressed.

Not long after the city re-opened St. Ann’s, drivers noticed some faults – namely the new corner at the bottom of St. Ann’s and Shoppers Row that sticks out into the roadway. The curb presents a problem for large vehicles, particularly city buses that can’t make the corner when turning right off of Shoppers Row onto St. Ann’s.

One transit driver, who did not want to be named, said that buses have to turn into the oncoming left-hand turn lane on St. Ann’s in order to make the corner without hitting the curb. He said if there’s a vehicle sitting at the light waiting to turn left onto Shoppers, the buses have to wait before making their right turn on to St. Ann’s. He said it’s gotten to the point that some drivers, after leaving the Community Centre, go over to Roberts Reach (beside McDonald’s), then turn right onto the highway to go straight through the lights and onto St. Ann’s.

Mayor Walter Jakeway said he supports the drivers and agrees there’s a problem.

“The bus company is absolutely correct,” Jakeway said. “For $4 million it should be better. It should be better and it’s wrong. To build it with safety hazards is just foolishness. They better not do the same thing on Alder Street (which is currently undergoing construction).”

Jakeway sent an e-mail to council on Sept. 11 suggesting the layout of the curbs and islands may need to be changed before paving.

“Council was warned four weeks ago,” said Jakeway, who noted he issued another warning a week before the road was paved. “I said ‘this isn’t going to work.’”

The city, though, says nothing is a done deal.

“We are still in the middle of construction,” said Ron Neufeld, the city’s general manager of operations. “There are parts of the St. Ann’s upgrade project that are not complete and the Shoppers Row/ St. Ann’s intersection is one of them. During construction people may encounter things that are unusual, odd or incomplete. While we’re interested in hearing concerns and getting input and feedback, we cannot address all these issues in the short term. Many aspects still need to be added, incorporated, aligned or considered.”

But Jakeway said he’s not aware of any plans to change or remove the wide curb which he said is there to accommodate the widened sidewalk and the double row of trees which will be planted.

“Council needs to make a big noise and the public needs to make a big noise,” Jakeway said. “It’s foolishness. So they should yell and scream and maybe they’ll make the roads wider.”

Jakeway said the situation is reminiscent of Highway 19A. After the newly paved portion of the highway was unveiled, the fire department was quick to point out that the road was too narrow for the fire trucks to pass safely during an emergency.

“It’s just deja vu all over again,” Jakeway said. “I don’t know why they’re so hung up on squeezing the road. If it was me, I would make the lanes wider.”

The upgrades on St.Ann’s are part of the city’s $4.05 downtown revitalization project to overhaul the city’s underground water, sewer and storm drainage pipes as well as improve the aesthetics of the area with new trees, wider sidewalks, street lights, benches and boulevards.

Alder Street, between 10th Avenue and Beech Street, is currently closed for improvements.