Work is slated to begin by the end of September to reduce Kalum St. from four driving lanes to two and then adding a middle turning lane and bike lanes.
Kalum has been called “overbuilt” because the amount of traffic it gets doesn’t warrant its large width – built back in the days when city design was more centred around motor vehicles and less for pedestrians and cyclists, said city planner Tara Irwin.
After new signs and markers on the street are in place, drivers will have single north and south lanes to follow between the bottom of the Skeenaview hill at Soucie Ave. south to the Kalum/Park intersection at George Little Park.
Motorists will be able to turn left from either direction using the middle turning lane and there will be a parking lane on both sides right next to bike lanes.
At a committee of the whole meeting held Sept. 9, city council heard staff describe the final project plans and viewed a map of the proposed changes for what is called the Kalum Street Reconfiguration Project.
The plan has been in the capital budget since last year at a cost of $50,000 and city staff are confident of a grant from ICBC of approximately $9-10,000.
The insurance corporation did a study of the traffic danger level on Kalum and determined that spending the money to help finance the work will lower the number of auto-insurance accident claims.
The width of the road varies between two points, being narrower (14 metres) at the bottom of the hill, and then widening to 18 metres by the time it gets to the intersection with Park Ave.
This is problematic, city staff told council.
With marked turning lanes in place, drivers would then face fines if used for passing, a RCMP officer told council.
However the new system of single driving lanes also raised questions, with councillor Brian Downie wondering if the decision to narrow to two lanes immediately after the intersection with Park might also cause issues.
An open house is planned for Thursday, Sept.18, 4 p.m. to 8 a.m., in the banquet room of the Sportsplex for the public to learn about the coming overhaul of the Kalum St. markings and signs.