An electronic speed board on Extension Road, near Cinnabar Drive, warns drivers exceeding the speed limit to slow down. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

An electronic speed board on Extension Road, near Cinnabar Drive, warns drivers exceeding the speed limit to slow down. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

City of Nanaimo starts work on trying to slow speeding on Extension Road

Staff collecting data in Chase River before considering traffic-calming measures

The city has started collecting data about driving on Extension Road as it looks at slowing speeders in that part of town.

City manager of transportation Jamie Rose told city councillors Monday that the municipality was getting started this week with data collection in Chase River.

Rose said the city communicated with the community association and asked if there was a desire to start a conversation about traffic calming.

“It was a resounding ‘absolutely,’” Rose said.

Coun. Zeni Maartman said at a meeting the week before that mayor and council have been receiving a lot of correspondence about road safety on Extension Road. Rose said the road goes from rural to residential and then approaches the highway, and motorists don’t always adjust their speed accordingly along the way.

“It’s also a very wide, unconstrained road, so that as people come through that corridor, they’re not really discouraged from speeding when there isn’t traffic,” Rose reported to council this week.

He said a section of Extension near Country Hills Park, for example, is almost four lanes wide.

“There’s road markings to keep you in your lane, but it’s very comfortable to do what you shouldn’t be doing,” he said.

It’s tough to limit the very fastest speeders through road design without creating other problems, Rose said, so the intention is to try to slow average speeds. He said possible traffic-calming measures on Extension could be curb extensions, centre medians, a traffic circle, or a combination, “something that’s going to physically constrain that travel lane.”

He said it was too early to predict costs, which would depend on the type of traffic-calming measures utilized, but said he would like to have something in place in the fall.

“For me, the big issue is the kids walking to school, because they all have to walk on that [road],” said Coun. Sheryl Armstrong.

She suggested the speeds, congestion and truck traffic around the crosswalks are areas of concern and said she hopes the city’s transportation department can work with the community to find a solution.

Rose said the “flipside” of the speeding in Chase River is that the area has seen an increase in traffic volume and congestion at certain times of the day at the intersection of Cranberry Road and the Trans-Canada Highway.

Last year city staff recommended delaying the $5.8-million Cranberry Connector project until 2027 and Rose said he sees it as an expensive piece of road that a relatively small number of motorists would use.

He told councillors that the city is working with the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and there may be opportunities for interim fixes such as elongated turn bays, an auxiliary lane or adjustments to traffic signal timing.

“How we’re coming at it is looking for a short-term, fairly cheap solution and then strategizing a more medium [or] longer-term solution that will anticipate the growth and expansion of the community to address those bigger concerns,” Rose said.

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