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East Eighth intersections to get changes
Two East Eighth Avenue intersections will get makeovers in the hope they’ll be safer for pedestrians.
New Westminster council decided to close off access to Sherbrooke and Devoy streets from Eighth at Cherry Street. That will turn a five-leg intersection into a three-way.
Council also ordered a pedestrian-activated signal installed at Eighth and Richmond Street. The decision went against advice from the city’s transportation department. Its staff recommended full signalization.
Some councillors said a full signal would encourage ratrunning on Richmond with a light making it easier to turn left onto Richmond. It could also create a danger from trucks making abrupt stops on a steep hill.
The traffic light recommendation shocked Coun. Chuck Puchmayr. He emphasized a pedestrian-activated light that doesn’t automatically engage is more appropriate.
“That’s too dangerous a street,” said Puchmayr. “I do believe we need to be putting in more pedestrian-activated lights in the city. We need to stop putting in infrastructure for cars and putting in infrastructure for residents.”
A motion from Coun. Jonathan Coté to refer the crosswalk to staff for more discussion was defeated.
“We have to take some leadership on this,” said Puchmayr. “I don’t know what going back to the community is going to do.”
“I wonder what we’re delaying this for,” said Harper. “We’ve already had lots of consultation.” He added a pedestrian-activated crosswalk seems to be the safest. “I don’t know what other options you’ve got.”
Transportation engineer Jerry Behl said staff recommended a full light because pedestrian crossings are low and vehicle collisions high. ICBC statistics show a signal there would lead to 18 fewer collisions over a five-year period with a traffic light.
“A full signal benefits both [pedestrians and drivers],” said Behl.
The intersection has a tunnel below it believed to have been built in the 1960s. Council directed staff to investigate improving the tunnel’s lighting and surveillance to encourage its use.
“Then it becomes the ultimate safe route. There’s no interaction between cars and people,” said Harper.
“Nowhere in this report did I see staff say let’s improve this tunnel,” said Coun. Betty McIntosh. “Use the funding (for a full traffic signal) that would let pedestrians and cyclists use it.”
Massey-Victory Heights Resident Association president Jason Lesage said his group did not want any traffic signalization. “[Richmond Street residents] are worried any signalization will result in increased traffic,” he told council Monday.
The new Cherry Street intersection design allows vehicles to enter Sherbrooke from East Eighth. Both sides of East Eighth will get curb extensions.
A crosswalk realignment will make the crossing shorter and improve visibility for pedestrians.