A new traffic light at the intersection of Northfield and Boxwood roads later this year will signal the beginning of a much larger project to ease traffic congestion along the busy Bowen Road corridor.
The light, which will cost $495,320 and include associated storm drain and road improvements, is part of a long-range project to improve access to adjacent roads from the Nanaimo Parkway gateway.
It will also improve access for industrial development and vehicle traffic.
The signal will provide safer access for all users, including pedestrians, cyclists and motorists, and will be compatible with future improvements for the Boxwood and Bowen roads connector.
It will also set up the ability for further improvements, the most significant of which will be the extension of Boxwood Road to Dufferin Crescent to the south and another addition linking Boxwood with Rosstown Road to the north.
“We’ve really got two projects on the go right now with regard to that area,” said Bob Prokopenko, manager for engineering services for the city. “The first is connecting Boxwood right through from Northfield to Bowen Road. Because of the industrial development down there there was a need to provide a signal at Boxwood to provide safe access through there.
The other project, which Prokopenko said will probably take about five years, is to extend Boxwood to the north to Rosstown Road, which will include crossing Northfield, then align with the Beban Park access near Beban Plaza.
The intersection at Northfield and Bowen roads is one of the most congested in Nanaimo and also has one of the highest crash rates.
The tender for the traffic signal will go out next month. Other aspects will take place over five or more years, and city staff are undergoing soil and geotechnical studies on the three hectares that will be used for the Boxwood Road extensions.
Beyond those projects, the city is also planning to extend pedestrian and bicycle components in the connection plans that will make accessing the Parkway Trail of Northfield Road safer and easier.