Discussion circled around a roundabout for Mary Ellen Drive at the a City of Nanaimo finance and audit committee meeting today.
City staff reported on project costs at the meeting Wednesday, July 20.
The street and its intersection between Woodgrove Centre and Woodgrove Crossing shopping centres will be reworked with a roundabout and be converted from five lanes to two.
Long-standing problems with the intersection, constructed in 1999, include long crossing distances for pedestrians, high speeds of vehicles coming off the Nanaimo Parkway and traffic congestion and driver confusion due to the number of lanes and lack of right-of-way traffic control that forces drivers to make more decisions that increase risk for driver error.
At the meeting, Annalisa Fipke, project engineer, described the traffic control feature as a “low-cost roundabout” that will use the existing curbs and drainage.
“We did explore completely pulling apart the entire intersection back in 2014, but the expense would have been too high, so this is a low-cost alternative,” she said.
Key features of the planned upgrade include relocating the crosswalk to the eastern side of the intersection away from the Nanaimo Parkway exit, reducing the pedestrian exposure in the crosswalk from five lanes to two lanes, and other improvements to try to decrease speeds and ease conflict points and confusion for drivers.
Committee members generally voiced their enthusiasm for the project, but Coun. Sheryl Armstrong asked specifically if B-train and occasional C-train multiple-trailer transport trucks that deliver to businesses at Woodgrove Centre and Woodgrove Crossing will be able to navigate the corners into the two shopping centres.
“I’m concerned with the some of the big trucks that come off the parkway, which most of them do … How are they going to get in there because there’s not the width to allow them … How are we dealing with that?” Armstrong said.
Fipke said B-train trucks, because of their multiple hinge points, can navigate the turns better than single-trailer trucks.
“This has all been reviewed … we’ve gone though it multiple times,” Fipke said. “There will have to be some re-routing; however, the properties, we have engaged with them and this is important enough from a day-to-day operations perspective that they will re-route … As far as the Woodgrove property, they have six other accesses as well as this one.”
Cost for the roundabout is expected to be just under $366,000, of which $205,00 will come from developer contributions and $160,000 from the city. ICBC, which has conducted a road safety audit for the design, has also committed to contribute money to the project, but has not confirmed an amount.
Bill Sims, general manager of engineering and public works, said in an e-mail to the News Bulletin that construction for the project is expected to get underway in the fall and should be complete by December.