The City of Port Alberni has identified the 15 most collision-prone intersections in the city and has come up with some recommendations to improve them.
The city partnered with ICBC earlier this year on a “network screening study” to look at the intersections in town with the worst collision records and recommend improvements. The city hired McElhanney Ltd. to complete this report.
Rob Dickinson, the city’s director of engineering and public works, presented the final report to council during a meeting on Nov. 8.
“Some of [the intersections] we could probably improve for about $15,000, some could be in the millions,” he said.
Council agreed to start an annual “Intersection Improvement Program” in the city’s five-year financial plan, with the city putting money towards the improvements every year. Dickinson plans to come to council in the next few months with more specific numbers for funding, but he is recommending $100,000 at minimum every year.
Some of the recommendations are minor, like line painting, foliage trimming and sign replacement. These are “operational issues,” said Dickinson, and will be addressed with the city’s operational budget. Longer-term improvements will look at reconstruction of intersections.
The study recorded the number of collisions at each intersection within a five-year period (2015 to 2019). Although not many of the collisions resulted in fatalities, the study says that the intersections exceed “the critical collision rate for similar intersections in British Columbia.”
Here are the 15 most collision-prone intersections in Port Alberni, listed in order based on a combination of frequency, rate and severity:
1. Gertrude Street, Stamp Avenue and Roger Street — There were 91 collisions recorded at this intersection. The main concerns are around limited visibility, speeding and wide roads. The study recommends traffic signal improvements and reconstructing the corner islands to reduce speeds when turning. The city has already trimmed back some trees to improve lighting in the short-term.
2. 10th Avenue and Redford Street — There were 57 collisions recorded at this intersection, including one fatality. The city has already planned some street painting to improve pedestrian and cyclist safety at this intersection.
3. Beaver Creek Road and River Road/Highway 4 — There were 25 collisions at this intersection, mostly attributed to “significant congestion” at the intersection and a lack of traffic signals. Because one of the roads is a provincial highway, the province has taken the lead role on improvements. A consultant has come up with a design concept for a roundabout and the province remains in the planning stage.
4. 10th Avenue and Burde Street — There were 17 collisions recorded here, most of them resulting in injuries. The study acknowledges a visibility problem, with obscured sight lines for both pedestrians and motorists. In the short term, the study suggests curb extensions to improve sight lines and increased lighting. As new developments continue to pop up on Burde Street, the study suggests adding a traffic signal or upgrading the intersection to a roundabout in the long-term.
5. Third Avenue and Argyle Street — There were 31 collisions recorded at this intersection, most of which only involved property damage because of the slower speeds on Upper Third Avenue. Twelve of the collisions were caused by vehicles reversing out of the angle parking stalls. There are pedestrian safety concerns, especially at night, as sight lines are obstructed by parking and opposing vehicles. The study suggests implementing a “lane diet” on Third Avenue, converting the existing four lanes to one through lane and a centre lane for left turns.
6. 10th Avenue and Wallace Street — There were 20 collisions recorded at this intersection, many of which were caused by drivers running the red light. There are many pedestrians in the area because of the Echo Centre and nearby seniors housing, but the pedestrian signal at the intersection runs “longer than necessary.” The study suggests adding tertiary signal heads to the traffic poles to improve visibility and reduce the running of red lights, and also suggests re-timing the pedestrian signal phases to meet provincial standards.
7. Cherry Creek Road and Johnston Road/Highway 4 — There were 49 collisions recorded at this intersection, four of which involved pedestrians. There is an issue with right-turn vehicles not noticing pedestrians, and the study suggests adding some “Look for Pedestrians” signage. It also recommends converting the eastbound advance left turn phase to a protected left turn phase, possibly adding one for westbound traffic as well. More speed enforcement in the area is needed, as well. This is another provincial road, which means the province will take the lead role on any improvements.
8. Gertrude Street and Johnston Road/Highway 4 — There were 81 collisions recorded at this intersection and the majority involved property damage only. This is “likely due to the slower and more congested traffic at the intersection,” says the report. Fifteen percent of collisions were related to on-street parking conflicts with traffic. There is also frequent red-light running and obstructed sight lines. The report recommends curb extensions at intersection corners to improve pedestrian safety and recommends the removal of on-street parking near the intersection. This is another provincial road, which means the province will take the lead role on any improvements.
9. Third Avenue and Bute Street — There were 18 collisions at this intersection, five of which involved vehicles stopping to allow pedestrians to cross at the crosswalk. A sixth collision was a pedestrian fatality in 2019. The report says there is a “significant” pedestrian crossing demand because of the overdose prevention site on the corner. It recommends installing curb extensions to increase visibility, installing a median island refuge on Third Avenue and adding pedestrian-activated lights.
10. 10th Avenue and Bute Street — There were 13 collisions at this intersection, more than half of them resulting in injuries. Almost half of the collisions cited vehicles stopping for pedestrians as a contributing factor. The report recommends installing pedestrian activated lights at the crosswalk.
11. 10th Avenue and Dunbar Street — There were 12 collisions at this intersection, including one fatality. The city already has plans to remove the existing left turn lanes on 10th Avenue, as well as adding curb extensions to reduce traffic speeds and improve pedestrian crossing safety.
12. Sixth Avenue and Roger Street — There were 14 collisions at this intersection and almost all resulted in injuries. Sight lines are limited on the Sixth Avenue approach, so the report recommends improving visibility by eliminating some on-street parking near the intersection and trimming the foliage in the area.
13. Third Avenue, Stamp Avenue and Redford Street — There were 37 collisions recorded at this intersection, and the report notes there is an issue with speeding traffic on Stamp Avenue. A continuous amber flasher alerts southbound traffic to the presence of a signal light, but the study recommends changing this to “Prepare to Stop when Amber Flashing” signage to help reduce speed.
14. 10th Avenue and Roger Street — There were 21 collisions recorded at this intersection. The intersection is busy during school times and drivers take the eastbound right turn off of Roger Street “at high speeds.” The study suggests removing the “merge” lane and making it a yield, instead.
15. 10th Avenue and Argyle Street — There were 12 collisions at this intersection. The study warns that sight lines are obscured, and there is an issue with drivers not yielding right-of-way at the four-way stop. The study says that this intersection is “a candidate for a future roundabout” with significant space to do so. According to Dickinson, design of a roundabout has commenced.
The full traffic study can be found in the council agenda package for Nov. 8.