A highway junction upgrade for Port McNeill is nearly finished, but some aren’t satisfied with the improvements.
Roadwork was aimed at addressing the number of accidents at the t-intersection, but as the project is finishing, residents have started to talk about how little was done to address safety concerns.
In a Sept. 17 media release, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure stated Hazelwood Construction Services Inc. from Nanaimo, is expected to complete the $1.57 million contract by the end of October.
“The intersection – known locally as ‘The T’ – was redesigned and elevated after local residents raised concerns about overall visibility,” an Oct. 22 media release stated. “The work included raising the highway to allow drivers to have a better and unobstructed view of vehicles turning on and off the highway.” The road and intersection were also repaved and freshly painted with lane markings.
MTI also stated that the “project will involve elevating Hwy 19 just south of the Campbell Way intersection (lift of 900mm).”
By elevating the intersection the ministry anticipates that it will “improve sightlines for south bound traffic turning on to Campbell Way as well as traffic turning onto Hwy 19 off Campbell Way.”
One resident stated online they were worried the “steep banks” would be an issue. A different Port McNeill resident agreed, noting that, “as an occasional cyclist, those ditches are alarming to me.”
Mayor-elect Gaby Wickstrom mentioned in an online post that the issue is “certainly something that will be brought to the attention of (MTI) as it doesn’t quite seem to have resolved the issue.”
Another Port McNeill resident noted that the road, in his opinion, was “poorly engineered,” saying that the “little narrow shoulder is going to be gone” after heavy rainfall.
In response to the residents’ concerns, the ministry media relations contact Danielle Pope stated that “while the highway was raised by roughly one metre, the overall depth of the highway ditch remained the same in order to ensure proper drainage,” she also added, “in consideration of the appearance of deeper ditches, the ministry will install a series of reflective markers on either side of the road. These markers will clearly identify the edge of the highway and provide drivers with improved visibility in the dark.”
The Minister of Transportation, MLA Claire Trevena, had this to say in a recent Sept. 17 media release: “For too long, residents of Port McNeill have had serious safety concerns at the entrance to their town,” she added, “I am relieved to see this important project getting underway, as it will boost safety for everyone in the area.”
The project is anticipated to finish shortly, but Hazelwood’s road crew will still need to install six additional lighting fixtures at the intersection, which will improve visibility during evenings and at night. The lighting will be installed by mid-November.