A roundabout for the McBride Street (Hwy 16) and Second Ave W intersection in Prince Rupert is now funded following an announcement from the Ministry of Transportation on Oct. 11.
The proposed $18 million plan was announced at the provincial courthouse, right in front of the current intersection.
Currently, the three-way intersection, which is provincially managed, has two stop signs, which provides plenty of challenges to drivers in Prince Rupert.
“We know this intersection is a busy and often congested area that causes a pinch point for people traveling to and from the heart of Prince Rupert,” said North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice on behalf of the Ministry of Transportation.
“We also know it’s very confusing for a lot of drivers.”
The new roundabout will bring a light-up crosswalk, a three-metre-wide pathway, bicycle ramps and splitter islands in the middle of the roundabout. Rice said there will also be flowers and other decorations in the middle island.
Construction is expected to begin next spring, with tendering to start this fall.
The proposed construction will require the province to purchase adjacent land across from the B.C. Liquor Store, and Rice said there have been initial talks about turning this land into affordable housing.
“We’re really keen to explore the possible opportunities of integrating affordable housing into this construction project,” said Rice. “It would probably happen after the roundabout is built.”
Rice said there are no concrete plans as of yet for any affordable housing project.
The roundabout construction will be part of the beginning of the municipality’s “Redesign Rupert 2030 Vision” of revitalizing the city, according to Mayor Herb Pond.
“This is a multifaceted piece of infrastructure, it’s going to make a difference to simple stuff like delivering water,” he said. “It’s also going to make a huge difference to how we see ourselves as we begin to launch into the 2030 vision.”
Construction of the roundabout will expose deep pipes that are part of the city’s plan to fix its pipes, according to Pond.
McBride and Second Ave W is not the only intersection of concern in the city, as many residents have complained about other dangerous intersections along Second Ave.
Rice could not give specifics as to whether the Ministry of Transportation is planning on changing any other intersections, though Pond said there have been talks between the city and the province to turn Second Ave W into a calmer traffic zone.
“We’ve been in conversations about traffic calming changes that could take place along Second Ave, making it a much more sort of centre-of-city street that you would expect in a small town, rather than feeling like a four-lane highway through the middle of town,” said Pond.
Pond said that while the roundabout system might irk some Prince Rupert residents who might not be very familiar with them, he believes it’s the best way to keep traffic running smoothly.
According to ICBC statistics, there have been at least 12 crashes at the intersection since 2018.