MoT begins controversial upgrades to 'Million-Dollar Alley'
Construction has begun on improvements to a stretch of Highway 3 dubbed 'Million Dollar Alley' by residents, because of the huge number of vehicular accidents that occur in that area.
City councillor and manager of Trowelex (a business fronting this stretch of roadway) Kevin Chernoff said he hopes residents are safe and careful as the work continues.
"They started Tuesday morning, moved a lot of heavy equipment in," he said. "People need to know there's construction for probably a couple of kilometres. With the fog we have in the morning, there's not much visibility - this morning it was probably down to a couple hundred feet.
"It's hard to see, and there are workers and equipment everywhere - We really don't want an accident trying to fix a safety concern."
He said construction will likely carry on seven days a week for roughly the next month-and-a-half.
The upgrade is a controversial one, as many residents wanted to see lights installed in the area, but MoT engineers indicated lights are not the ideal way to slow traffic and prevent accidents.
The Ministry of Transportation hosted an open house at the Community Forum from 4 to 8 p.m. tonight, in which they unveiled their plans to enhance safety at the notorious 'Million-Dollar Alley' on Highway 22.
The junction, where Hwy 22 meets Minto Road out in front of The Brick and Trowelex, has been a matter of deep concern for city council, emergency crews and residents, after years of serious accidents culminating with one June 27 of this year that saw six sent to hospital, including a 104-year-old woman with serious injuries including broken ribs and a punctured lung. (The Source has since heard, but can't confirm, that despite all odds, the lady in question is home and undergoing physical therapy, much to the delight of everyone involved).
(See http://castlegarsource.com/news/million-dollar-alley-takes-another-toll-six-sent-hospital-19719; http://castlegarsource.com/node/4606; http://castlegarsource.com/news/motorcyclist-sent-hospital-after-crash-million-dollar-alley-19084; http://castlegarsource.com/node/5683 ).
Robbie Kalabis, MoT's project manager, said the intersection sees about 12,000 vehicles a day (15,000 in summertime), with an 85th percentile of drivers travelling eight km/h above the posted limit of 90.
He said the intersection doesn't meet enough of the seven criteria that mean it warrants a street light, but instead proposed a 'protected T', which will see concrete berms that make it virtually impossible to cross into oncoming traffic (he said 17 per cent of collisions between 2006 and 2011 were head on), negate interaction between people turning left off Minto Road and traffic heading north into Castlegar (39 per cent of collisions were caused making that left turn), and improve sight lines (see photo of proposed interchange design.
Not all of the roughly 30 attendees were delighted, most particularly a business owner across the highway from Trowelex whose access (but not egress) onto the highway will be severely limited. Many others, however, expressed relief that vehicles turning left will only have to watch for south-bound traffic, with north-bound traffic separated by a concrete berm.