Monday, May 09, 2016

Rail Uncertainty Could Delay Upgrade

Northfield Rd. & Island Hwy

The intersection upgrade planned for Northfield Rd. and the Island Hwy. may get a second look due to the uncertainty of rail on the Island. ICF has failed to bring the often promised passenger rail service back to the Island and are the subject of a recent motion at AVICC.

If the intersection is done to accommodate a passenger rail crossing at this intersection it could cost taxpayers $1.5 million which would not be necessary if rail never resumes.

This is a political hot potato as councillors wishing to determine if rail will resume before spending $1.5 million could be painted as having little concern for public safety. It is a bit of a lose lose political decision as councillors voting to potentially waste $1.5 million in the interest of safety can also be cast in a bad light.

Why this intersection?

While no one would disagree that this is one intersection that was never designed to handle the volume of traffic it now does as a result of being a connector to the Parkway, the question needs asking 'why is this intersection considered so bad?'.

A few years ago it became a political issue when identified as one of the worst on the Island, which is not the type of info you want on your tourist brochures. According to ICBC stats for the five years from 2009 - 2013 this intersection is not the highest crash site in Nanaimo at all. In fact it is number three in Nanaimo trailing behind Bowen and the Is. Hwy, and Mostar and the Is. Hwy. It is also not very far ahead of Aulds and Hammond Bay for that matter.

By the numbers
bad intersections or poor drivers?

The following numbers come from ICBC for the period of 2009 - 2013, the first number is the total number of 'crashes' which includes all fender benders as well as personal injury accidents. The second number is for accidents classed as 'casualty' which would be any accident involving personal injury.

Bowen Rd. & Is. Hwy         310    154
Mostar & Is. Hwy            309    139
Northfield & Is Hwy         279    139
Aulds & Hammond Bay         271    116
Bowen & Northfield          159     82
Is. Hwy & Turner Rd         155     80
Enterprise & Is Hwy         147     79
Jinglepot & Is Hwy          137     67
10th St. & Is Hwy           127     68
Aulds Rd. & Aulds on ramp   111     56

The above stats clearly demonstrate that Nanaimo has many intersections which will insure the economic future of auto body shops in our fair city. That said, one has to wonder if the reason for our crash rate is all about poorly designed intersections or impatient, distracted and poorly trained folk behind the wheel who face little consequence for their poor driving?

Our top two crash sites are apparently not on anyone's radar even though the number of crashes does exceed the Northfield one slated for upgrade.

If you consider that Northfield Rd. and the Island Hwy. has an annual average of 56 crashes per year (including fender benders) it would mean that approximately one driver each week has an 'issue' at this intersection. There are no stats which indicate how many thousands and thousands of drivers go through this intersection each week without incident.

Intersections or just bad drivers??

The first recorded auto accident (according to the Internet) happened in 1891. So I presume any time we accept the fact we are going to allow poorly trained, easily distracted and impatient people in charge of a heavy projectile traveling down the road at 100 km/H and more, we can expect the auto body shops to be kept busy.



  1. Bad intersection or bad drivers? I don't think it's that cut and dry. Sure, everyone can be more careful but that's such an intangible like saying "be better to each other". What is tangible is that this is a poorly designed intersection and needs to take into account that humans are just that, humans. And as humans, we make errors even when we are being careful. While fixing the intersection will not eliminate accidents here, it would likely diminish the possibility of them.

    If you broke a glass on the floor would you clean it up as best you can to prevent stepping on broken glass? Or would you simply be more careful when walking around the broken shards?

  2. Rail uncertainty, hotel uncertainty, foot ferry uncertainty, and the biggest uncertainty of all 'functionality of council'

    what is with this town, nothing is ever really done ??


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