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Options for Thornhill multi-use pathway network come into focus

Safer, more accessible pedestrian and cycling experience wanted
Illustration provides an overview of Thornhill multi-use pathway options on all sides of the Hwy16/Hwy37 roundabout. (Illustration courtesy the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine)

Thornhill residents will get a more detailed look at a long term plan to improve walking and cycling connections between their community and Terrace this summer.

A first phase which concluded more accessible and much safer walking and cycling connections were feasible in all directions from the Hwy16/37 roundabout has been accepted by Kitimat-Stikine regional district directors, leading to a decision to advance to a more detailed design and cost estimates.

Right now, for instance, pedestrians and cyclists heading from Thornhill past the intersection of Hwy16 and Old Lakelse Lake Road toward the roundabout are relegated to a narrow gravelly ill-lit strip right next to the travelled portion of Hwy16.

In that regard, consultants Urban Systems recommend a multi-use pathway along the service road that’s just north of that stretch of highway.

And from the roundabout there would be further connections leading along Hwy16 toward the Dudley Little Bridge into Terrace, to the Old Skeena Bridge and also south on Hwy37 to Substation Ave. where the park and ride facility is located.

Also forecast are crossing improvements at the intersection of Hwy16 and the Old Lakelse Lake Drive.

In all, the improvements would take in approximately 1.2km and fall in line with the Thornhill Active Transportation Plan of 2014 expressing the desire for a multi-use pathway connecting Thornhill with Terrace.

“A multi-use pathway in this area would enhance the gateway experience into Thornhill and builds on the momentum of the new roundabout and other recent improvements to the community,” a project summary by Urban Systems states.

“A landscaped multi-use path would beautify Thornhill in a high traffic and highly visible area and provide the opportunity for residents to engage in active transportation and support healthy lifestyles.”

As it is, a connection to the Old Skeena Bridge would build on improvements for pedestrian and cycling access to the structure that are part of the extensive rehabilitation of the bridge that’s now underway and then connect to the City of Terrace’s multi-use pathway leading from the bridge into Terrace adjacent to Lakelse Ave.

While the service road north of Hwy16 would provide the starting point for a pathway, the authors of the feasibility study do note that it runs below the elevation of the roundabout and has grades up to eight per cent compared to the desired standard of five per cent.

“The universal design standard can best be achieved by constructing the pathway away from or adjacent to the service road and grading it accordingly,” the authors suggest.

There would also need to be a separate pathway of gentle turns to ease the elevation constraints leading up from below to the level of the roundabout.

Consideration could also be given to a marked crossing for pedestrians and cyclists approaching the intersection of Queensway and the Thornhill side of the Old Skeena Bridge to provide safer access to a new Kitselas First Nation park on Queensway.

The feasibility study now completed and the more advanced design now starting cost $115,996 with a Federation of Canadian Municipalities providing $50,000 and the regional district the remaining $65,996.

Regional district staffers anticipate the next phase will be ready by July.