NANAIMO — A traffic light is on the way to hopefully improve safety and relieve congestion at an increasingly busy Nanaimo intersection.
A $1.4-million project set to get underway this spring will see a traffic signal added at the intersection of Jingle Pot Rd. and Westwood Rd. There will also be additional sidewalks and bike lanes installed, as well as repaving and utility upgrades.
Jamie Rose, the City's manager of transportation, said it's something that has been on the radar for a while.
"There's a lot of people who expressed concerns about getting on and off Jingle Pot from Westwood," he told NanaimoNewsNOW.
"The development around there has definitely increased traffic demand. We've also seen an increase in demand for people wanting to walk and bike from Westwood Lake to the area north of Cathers Lake. We've also seen an increase in demand for transit there as well."
Rose said the intersection will maintain the same lane structure and turn bays, but the road will be narrowed slightly to accommodate the new bike lanes. The sidewalks and traffic islands will also be reconstructed.
He said traffic signals are sometimes viewed as an encumbrance to people's commutes, but in this case the idea has received strong support.
"In the existing condition, Jingle Pot is just a free movement, so there's little or no delay for people on that route. But with the building traffic demand on Westwood, that delay is increasing fairly steadily. The traffic signal shares that allocation of time so people get their turns more efficiently."
ICBC data showed crashes at the Jingle Pot-Westwood intersection increased from just three in 2013 to 18 in 2017, with a five-year average of nine per year.
Rose said the area typically sees 9,500 vehicles a day on Jingle Pot and 5,500 on Westwood. That compares to the estimated 25,000 commuters per day on a main route like Bowen Rd.
When asked why the City did not choose a roundabout or traffic circle for the area, Rose said it was considered but "the land and topographic constraints would have increased the cost significantly."
Work is expected to get underway this spring and be complete in the fall. There will be a variety of traffic delays during construction and people are urged to follow the City's website and social media for changing conditions in the area.
— with files from Spencer Sterritt
On Twitter: @domabassi
— Note to readers: This story was updated to include a response to a question about the potential for a roundabout instead of a traffic light.
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