Some changes are coming to a pair of busy intersections in Port Alberni to make things safer for cyclists and pedestrians.
Port Alberni city council voted during a meeting on Tuesday, April 11 to provide early approval for 10th Avenue and Dunbar Street and 10th Avenue and Redford Street traffic improvements. The combined cost of both projects will be $410,000, coming out of capital works reserves.
Both intersections were identified back in 2021 as two of the most dangerous intersections in Port Alberni. At 10th Avenue and Redford Street, there were 57 collisions recorded between 2015 and 2019, including one cyclist fatality. There were 12 collisions at 10th and Dunbar during the same time period, including one cyclist fatality.
The changes proposed for 10th and Redford are mainly street line painting and signal improvements, but the construction on 10th and Dunbar will include curb extensions installed at all four corners. Director of engineering Rob Dickinson explained that this will provide better sight lines and will reduce the crossing distance for pedestrians. The city also plans to add more lighting to the intersection.
The project has already been tendered, said Dickinson, and the city has been coordinating with Cycle Alberni on the effort.
“It’s a major safety improvement,” Dickinson summarized.
Back in 2021, the city originally discussed removing the left-turn lanes at 10th and Dunbar, but decided to keep both turning lanes in place after hearing feedback from the public. Dickinson explained that removing the turning lanes would compound traffic issues at the intersection of 10th and Argyle Street.
Mayor Sharie Minions said she was disappointed to see vehicle traffic being prioritized at this intersection, since the changes were supposed to be for pedestrian and cyclist safety. The reason council prioritized the project, she said, was because staff had identified it as a “dangerous” intersection for pedestrians and cyclists.
“If we are not reaching the maximum pedestrian and cyclist safety through this project, is this even a project we should even be doing at this point?” she said. “If we were looking at vehicle traffic flow, there’s lots of other intersections that we could have prioritized over this one. That really was not the intent of this project.”
Dickinson called this “phase one” of a two-phase improvement project. He said the city plans to “monitor” the intersection and see if the left-turn lanes still need to be removed after the new improvements are put in place.