BC Minister of Transportation Todd Stone addresses Terrace city council at Oct.16 Committee of the Whole meeting. Councillor Lynne Christiansen looks on.

Gov’t promises help to ease Terrace, B.C. traffic bottleneck

Measures would concentrate on improving traffic flow over the Sande Overpass

A SECOND vehicle overpass connecting the two sections of the city divided by CN tracks is still on Terrace city council’s wish list but it’s now concentrating on more immediate measures to improve the flow over the existing Sande Overpass which has become a bottleneck.

Those measures, including a vehicle roundabout and new traffic signals, were discussed by council members yesterday in a meeting with provincial transportation minister Todd Stone.

“With respect to the Sande Overpass, my understanding is that local staff are working on some options,” said Stone. “We were just talking earlier today about how that could be a roundabout, a new traffic signal.”

“There is a number of configurations that could potentially work there and you have my commitment that we will bring these options forward.”

A vehicle roundabout features vehicles entering from and exiting to road connections via a large circle without the need for stop signs.

The city has long lobbied for a second overpass, a situation now considered more important than ever given the increase in vehicle traffic because of existing economic development and the prospect of more people and more traffic should liquefied natural gas plant plans ever solidify in the region.

CN at one time had committed itself to helping with a second overpass as had the federal government and the city went so far as to commission a traffic study outlining options but those plans were shelved.

Councillor Lynne Christiansen said the plan for a pedestrian overpass should be included in any improvements.

“As a region, the transportation corridor, the [the Sande Overpass] is the bottleneck before you get to the coast. We have to do something to separate foot traffic, local vehicles, and truck traffic,” she told Stone.

Councillor Bruce Bidgood added afterwards that part of the discussion the city is having includes a possible bypass for larger vehicles.

“There has been a switch in the conversation,” said Bidgood. “There is talk of improving the current overpass while still working on future plans for a second one.”

Councillor Stacey Tyers brought up the need for increased lighting on local highways.

“We want to put more money than we have in the past into secondary highways and side roads,” Stone said.

He was in town promoting – and looking for comment – on the provincial government’s latest efforts at a transportation plan called BC On The Move intended to set out a series of projects over the next 10 years.

Todd said improvements should be announced in the next year.

The list, he said, would include assistance for the Northwest Regional Airport’s $15 million expansion program and that this assistance, and overpass improvements are good candidates for short to mid term projects within the plan’s 10-year timeline.

Stone was confident 80-90 per cent of the eventual 10-year plan will go ahead whether or not liquefied natural gas companies make final investment decisions.