The Ministry of Transportation says it is receiving a majority of positive feedback on their plan to construct a roundabout at the intersection of Highways 16 and 37.
District manager Darrell Gunn hosted an open house at Thornhill Community Centre Oct. 26 to present the initial plan.
“We’ve had a lot of good questions tonight, and we’ve also heard a lot of myths but we’ve been able to address them head-on,” he said. “Once we could explain how roundabouts work, most people agreed it was a good option. But there were those who said they’d have to see it work to be convinced.”
The ministry developed an alternate design featuring traffic signals, but settled on the roundabout in light of data indicating they reduce both congestion and accident rates, said Gunn. “What we wanted to do with this open house was to present this option to the public, but also hear from them on anything that might impact our designs going forward, including anything we may not have thought about before that would make the roundabout not viable. Nothing like that came up but we did hear some good ideas that we’ll include.”
Based on public input, the ministry will also be addressing congestion at the Old Skeena Bridge.
Although it’s still debated as to the rates roundabouts decrease accidents, they do facilitate a different kind of collision, essentially eliminating the head-on and T-bone accidents that are most likely to cause traumatic injury and death. According to the ministry, roudabouts claim 90 per cent few lives than conventional intersections, and 76 per cent fewer vehicle related injuries.
This will be the first highway roundabout in the Northwest. The $4-million project will be paritally paid for with $1.7 million in Federal funding.
Gunn says the majority of concerns he heard from residents wasn’t on their acceptance of roundabouts, but other drivers’ awareness of the traffic laws pertaining to them.
The ministry is planning an education outreach before the roundabout is open for service. It will also be included in the B.C. driving curriculum.
The ministry will continue the design phase until the spring when pre-construction will begin. This work will include moving the weigh scales. Gunn said his department will conduct a second public consultation on where to relocate the scales.
Primary construction of the roundabout will begin in 2019. The project is expected to take the full construction season from spring to fall.