Traffic safety concerns trustees

NANAIMO: School officials say traffic situation outside NDSS is an accident waiting to happen

Students head back to class at Nanaimo District Secondary School using a designated crosswalk on Wakesiah Avenue. Congestion between pedestrians and vehicles is causing school district trustees to consider options to improve safety.

Students head back to class at Nanaimo District Secondary School using a designated crosswalk on Wakesiah Avenue. Congestion between pedestrians and vehicles is causing school district trustees to consider options to improve safety.

School officials are concerned about the safety of Nanaimo District Secondary School students as they cross Wakesiah Avenue to and from the bus stop across from the school.

Trustees attending Wednesday’s business committee meeting discussed having staff investigate ways that student safety could be improved in this high-traffic area.

“The problem is you have a bus stop directly across from the school entryway,” said Jamie Brennan, school board chairman, who brought forward the motion. “You’ve got cars turning off Wakesiah, cars turning onto Wakesiah. It’s dangerous. We’re just really lucky that nobody has been struck by a vehicle yet.”

While there is a crosswalk in the area, it is up the street from the bus stop and the vast majority of students don’t use the crosswalk if they are heading to the bus, choosing to simply cross the street in a direct line to the bus stop instead of walking up the street and then back down on the other side, he said.

“You’ve got a crosswalk in the wrong spot, a turnoff in the wrong spot and a bus stop in the wrong spot,” said Brennan. “It is an accident waiting to happen. I don’t want to be the one that runs a kid over.”

He thinks moving the crosswalk and closing the entryway in front of NDSS to cars would solve the problem.

“People can get into the aquatic centre or NDSS by Third Street,” said Brennan.

School district staff have already met with city staff and Regional District of Nanaimo staff once to discuss the issue.

Gordon Foy, a transportation engineer with the city, said the groups are meeting again to discuss ideas to improve the situation.

“I think there is an issue there, but it will have to be a collaborative process between the city, the regional district and the school district on how to solve it,” he said. “We’ve definitely heard a number of ideas on how to address it. We’re going to have to go through these ideas and see which one works the best to address the issue. The ideal situation would be everybody uses the crosswalk.”

Cpl. Norm Smith, head of Nanaimo RCMP’s Traffic Services division, said in an e-mailed response that blocking the Wakesiah driveway into the NDSS parking lot would cause havoc at the Third Street entrance.

Foy said it is a complicated area and any change could have an impact elsewhere.

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