Roundabout picked for access to north Nanaimo neighbourhood

NANAIMO – Officials will design phased-in multi-lane roundabout for Linley Valley West neighbourhood in north Nanaimo.

City of Nanaimo officials will design a new intersection with the potential to shift gears into a multi-lane roundabout not yet seen in the region.

Nanaimo city council unanimously agreed to final designs for a phased $2-million multi-lane roundabout to improve access for a growing Linley Valley West neighbourhood.

Getting to Linley Valley Drive currently means travelling along at least three streets and delays at the intersection of Vanderneuk and Rutherford roads – where people access Linley Valley West. Residents have expressed concern about traffic volumes and speeds on Cascara and Altavista drives, a city report shows.

Last December, councillors agreed to link Linley Valley Drive and Rutherford Road across from Nelson Road, as well as purchase land and create a roundabout.

New information the city acquired shows a single-lane roundabout won’t have the capacity for future traffic volumes, and a report by city project engineer Chris Lang proposes a signalized intersection or a multi-lane roundabout completed at once, or phased in. Capital costs for a complete multi-lane roundabout would cost $2.24 million, while the phased multi-lane roundabout would start with a single lane and expand when there’s the traffic demand, costing $2 million now and another $225,000 in the future. The cost for a signalized intersection is $1.57 million.

Coun. Bill Bestwick said he’d prefer to do the multi-lane roundabout instead of deferring for five to 10 years when traffic warrants the additional $225,000 and not go back and dig up landscape, or take out other items that had capital costs.

Coun. Wendy Pratt said she’s a fan of saving $600,000 by going with a signalized intersection, which proved slightly more popular with respondents of an online survey, but if going with a roundabout, she’d prefer the phased-in one.

She just came from Edmonton and said there’s been a change to signal lights in the two-lane roundabouts because of the confusion and number of accidents and she doesn’t believe a two-lane roundabout is a good idea.

Coun. Gord Fuller liked the phased multi-lane option.

“The lighted intersection is cheaper at this point in time, but what if it needs to be expanded in the future with even more increased traffic?” he asked. “The great thing about the phased thing is we do what’s needed now and we have the option to do what’s needed in the future.”

Construction is expected next year.