Bad intersection has to wait for fix

Nanaimo city council opts to consider other sources of funding.

Upgrades for a high-crash intersection are on hold as the city searches for ways to cover a funding shortfall.

Safety improvements for the three-way intersection at the old Island Highway, Boundary Avenue and Northfield Road were slated to start this year, but are now on pause while the city seeks approximately $800,000 in additional funding.

The site was ranked as the third-highest crash intersection on Vancouver Island by ICBC in 2013 and saw 340 collisions between 2007 and 2011.

Poul Rosen, the city’s manager of engineering projects, said upgrading the intersection to make it safer is a priority, but it’s also a complex undertaking. Several jurisdictions are involved, including the Island Corridor Foundation and the Ministry of Transportation.

The city originally estimated the project would cost $2 million and had agreed to split the bill with the province. Designs now peg the bill at $2.9 million due to costs tied in with the railroad crossing, scope of the storm system and earth works and paving.

ICBC has indicated it can chip in $95,000 and the city has asked for time to investigate potential rail crossing grants and discuss an increased share from the Ministry of Transportation.

Preparation for the project has cost the city about $361,700 to date

“We would like to see it completed sooner rather than later, but you know we still have these funding challenges we have to work through,” Rosen said.

City staff members will look at a rail grant, but would have to apply the August of the year before the money would be used. If the city waits, it would induce a significant delay in completing the project, Rosen said.

The intersection includes three major roadways. In 2013 the city logged 9,500 people travelling daily on Northfield and 6,600 on Boundary in 2011.

Kathy Ridgway, manager for National Car and Truck Sales on Northfield, said the intersection is very busy and is surprised there are not more accidents. She believes Boundary should become a one-way street.

Proposed upgrades would see changes like dedicated eastbound left and right turn lanes on Northfield, a left-turn only traffic signal, and a new rail crossing for pedestrians and cyclists.