The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure will be installing additional signage and more lighting at the turnoff from Highway 16 to Prince Rupert’s Industrial Park.
It’s a move that comes after the ministry heard concerns in January from Prince Rupert City Council about the increased number of logging trucks using the turnoff.
According to the Ministry, the accident frequency is really low at the site. So far there’s only been one accident involving property damage further down the highway from the turnoff, but after hearing from the City, the Ministry decided to review the existing signage.
“In our view it didn’t warrant reconstruction of the turnoff to widen it, but we decided to add additional signage for traffic coming westbound. The new sign will say trucks turning wide, with a tab at the bottom that says do not pass on the right,” said Skeena District Manager Don Ramsay Wednesday.
When asked if people are frequently attempting to pass on the right, Ramsay indicated it’s not a common problem, but sometimes people need to be reminded it’s not a safe thing to do, even though it’s tempting when a truck pulls out a little to the left.
Councillor Kathy Bedard, who lives in Port Edward and commutes every day to work, initially raised concerns about the turnoff and asked City staff to contact the Ministry.
After hearing about the new signage and lighting, she said anything is better than nothing, but she remains concerned.
“It’s been such a struggle to get an understanding of how dangerous it is. You have to be actually there. They say the traffic pattern is fine, but it’s not fine. Telling people to slow down doesn’t necessarily stop the people wanting to pass. There’s not a lot of room to swing out and pass one of these trucks and that’s what’s happening,” said Bedard.
One of her suggestions was that the highway be widened on the mountain side, where there’s enough room to put in an extra lane. She feels the expansion would help to get away from the congestion occurring there by providing an extra lane for eastbound traffic.
“Right now, what you have to do, depending on how traffic is flowing, is to go into the oncoming lane to get around or drive through the meridian where people are coming in to drive down into the industrial park site,” Bedard said.
“You should see it when it’s snowing. There are good drivers and bad drivers out there. It can be really hair raising,” she added.
Ramsay said the signage will be installed soon, although he couldn’t confirm when new lighting will be installed.
“I’m always in favour of lighting in the Rupert area. We’re a long way north so in the interest of what our roads are like, especially after dusk in the winter, we’ll install extra lighting,” Ramsay said.