The transportation ministry is putting up a yield sign on an approach to the Sande Overpass following six collisions and reports of other incidents since new traffic control signals went into operation there late last November.
The sign will be installed for vehicles approaching the intersection on the south end of the overpass from the west along Keith Ave.
Previously there was a stop sign where Keith Ave. meets the intersection for all the traffic coming from the west, which alerted drivers that they could not turn left onto the overpass until through traffic approaching from the east on Keith passed through.
The installation of traffic control lights is intended to improve traffic flow for vehicles.
But now drivers approaching the overpass from the west along Keith and intending to turn left onto the overpass are not yielding to traffic flow from the east, says Terrace RCMP Constable Angela Rabut.
“Drivers turning left from Keith onto the Sande Overpass need to properly assess the flow of westbound traffic,” said Rabut.
“Yield the right of way to those travelling straight through the intersection on a green light.
“Ensure all of your attention is directed towards driving, which is actually a very complicated task with a lot of factors to consider, especially at intersections,” said Rabut.
The reported accidents have caused minor injuries and damages of more than $1,000, she added.
Pronto Towing driver Tim Flemming has called the new traffic control light system a design flaw, saying there have been more accidents at the intersection than at any other intersection in the city.
“Most of the accidents have happened exactly the same way,” he said.
“The mechanics of the accident all seem to be the same. Somebody is T-boning somebody who is turning trying to get onto the overpass.
“They need to put a delayed turn signal in coming from the west for eastbound traffic so there is a delayed turn,” Flemming suggested.
A statement from the transportation ministry says its engineers “have reviewed the signal timing at the intersection and have confirmed it is functioning as designed and is appropriate for the traffic volumes.”
Ministry officials have also met with the RCMP and “will continue to closely monitor this intersection.”
Flemming said he sees how there can be a difference between design and reality when human error comes into play.
“Everything on paper looks good, and it doesn’t quite pan out. We are relying on the human element. Driving comes in,” he said.
What’s happening is that drivers crest a rise while turning left onto the overpass from Keith from the west are committing themselves and focussing on the turn and can’t see traffic which also crests a small rise and is continuing through from the east, he said.
The company that did the initial design concept, R.F. Binnie and Associates Ltd., for the $2.3 million overpass reconstruction project won a Deputy Minister’s Consulting Engineers Awards earlier this month.
The major part of the overpass reconstruction work involved adding a second lane for traffic coming off of the overpass from the north and turning eastward along Keith.
That’s intended to ease what had become a bottleneck on the overpass which is part of Hwy16.