By Laura Stovel
Could a roundabout by the Nomad Restaurant solve a traffic nightmare 200 metres away?
The City of Revelstoke is looking at the possibility of building a roundabout at the intersection of Wright Street and Victoria Road (near the Nomad Restaurant) as a way of resolving a traffic challenge about 200 metres away. And the idea might just work.
The intersection at Victoria Road, Woodenhead Loop (by McDonald’s and the A&W) and the turn-off to the Shell gas station and Tim Horton’s has long been a source of grief. The challenges of turning left from Woodenhead Loop to access the highway or turning left into Tim Horton’s has left City engineers and road engineering consultants scratching their heads. Hiring flaggers during peak hours in the summer provides short-term relief but a long-term solution is needed.
Engineers from the Kamloops-based firm McElhanney Consulting have proposed building a roundabout on Victoria on the east side of the railway underpass so traffic wanting to turn left onto the highway from the Woodenhead Loop can instead turn right, go around the roundabout, and return to the highway without holding up traffic. Drivers wanting to turn left into town from the Shell station and Tim Horton’s can still make a left turn.
Eighty-seven residents attended an open house organized by the City’s Engineering Department at the Community Centre on the evening of Wednesday, March 2, to present the proposal and solicit feedback. Residents were actively engaged with the drawings, highlighting what they liked and making suggestions to the engineers present.
Several people said that drivers coming out of the Woodenhead Loop “will panic” when they can’t turn left onto the highway and they can’t see how they will get there. The City’s Director of Engineering and Development Services, Mike Thomas acknowledged this concern. “Often when you’re at a place where you know you are going to go through a roundabout, you can see the roundabout. In this case we would have to have some pretty amazing signage to help people understand that they are going to go around a roundabout and they will do a full circle around to get back to the highway or they go up the Eastern Access if they are heading east. They go through town.”
“The next project is to improve the Victoria, Fourth, Townley intersection. Another one that definitely needs help. And these consultants have already got conceptual design,” he said. That process of consultations may take place in a couple of months.
Some residents really liked the suggested roundabout. Taxi driver Gladys Dyer, who works for R Taxi, said that right now “it’s very confusing for most people how to get in and out of that Tim Horton’s area. And with the new Starbucks it’s going to be twice as bad.”
“When we go to Super-8 and pick up a load of people, we come out to the stop sign and have to wait ten or 15 minutes. People are not very impressed.” She felt that with proper signage the new proposal could work.
The left turn out of the Tim Horton’s/Shell exit into town will still be permitted. Thomas said he believes “it will be less of a problem than the left turn in was in terms of the impact on the flow of traffic.”
Several people mentioned the possibility of a grade-separated junction at the highway. “That would change everything,” Thomas said. “But that’s a project that is, at this stage, inconceivable in comparison to this project that we’re looking at here. It truly is at a different scale. At that point there would be massive community consultation and the ministry would be driving that project.”
Thomas described the open house and consultations with stakeholders earlier in the day as in the early stages. After gathering all the feedback, “the consultants have a lot of work to take in all of these comments and see how they can modify the design or make tweaks.
“The estimated cost of this project is higher than in the 2016 budget,” Thomas acknowledged. “We are looking for other funders as well. The project is funded by DCC funds so we do have a pot of money that’s not general tax revenue.” Once the plan is firmer, costs will be clearer, and it will be easier to solicit funding from other sources, including the federal government as the Ministry of Transportation should be a “partner” in this.
The City’s Engineering Department has “been spending a lot of time working with the Ministry of Transportation, understanding their concerns and needs for traffic coming of and onto the highway. It’s really important that the solution works for them.”
“I keep impressing upon the Ministry that this intersection is part of their infrastructure and their highway corridor. The corridor is not just a linear road. It’s also the infrastructure that the drivers on that highway use. This is a very important location along that highway for drivers to refuel, to have lunch or a toilet break.”
The engineering proposal also shows a second roundabout at the intersection of LaForme Boulevard and Fraser Drive just north of the highway in Columbia Park. “That roundabout is for the future. If there’s additional development on the old Esso site, if there is further development in the Chevron, Sandman, down to Canyon Motel area, that roundabout would become necessary to manage all those turning movements and to keep traffic flowing through from Columbia Park.”
It’s not anticipated to be part of this immediate construction project but sometime in the distant future” it may be needed.
Residents are encouraged to submit feedback to the City’s Engineering Department until early next week. Comments can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or hand-written comments can be submitted in person.