A petition to implement dedicated protected left-turn signals at three dangerous intersections on the Trans-Canada Highway has garnered more than 2,500 signatures in under 48 hours.
Petition organizer Chris Lumley, who is also an administrator for the Cobble Hill Neighbours Facebook group, said the petition on Change.Org is asking for the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to place left-turn signal lights at Cobble Hill/Kilmalu, Hutchinson Road and Fisher Road intersections.
He said there have been numerous accidents at the intersections over the years, including one involving a fatality on July 26 at the Hutchinson Road intersection.
In that accident, the driver of a pickup truck died after his vehicle was involved in a collision with a dump truck in the southbound lane at the intersection.
Lumley said there have been at least eight accidents at the three intersections in the last year alone, and there have been two fatalities in the last year and a half.
“There has been numerous accidents and always a lot of near misses at these intersections as people try to get through them when the traffic lights turn yellow,” he said.
“If we had protected left-hand signals, no one would be waiting to turn left on yellow lights and that would take care of much of the problem.”
Lumley said Mike Wilson, the Cowichan Valley Regional District’s director for Cobble Hill, and Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau have had conversations with the ministry about placing left turn signals at the intersection, but nothing has happened to date and the accidents keep happening.
“The ministry says that the timeline for the installation of signals at these intersections is not yet determined,” he said.
“This petition is to show them that this idea has the community’s support, and that we want to see this done sooner rather than later to prevent more deaths.”
Wilson confirmed that both he and Furstenau have been asking the ministry for changes at the intersections for some time.
He said the ministry told him after the fatal accident on July 26 that its engineers consider upgrading all three intersections as their top priority.
A statement from the ministry said the thoughts among its staff are with everyone affected by the accident on July 26.
The statement said the safety of people on the province’s highways is the ministry’s top priority.
“Early this year, in March, ministry staff initiated an engineering review at the intersections of Kilmalu, Fisher and Hutchinson roads,” the ministry said.
“The review is complete and ministry engineers have recommended moving forward with design work for the installation of north and south bound protected left turn signals at Kilmalu Road, Hutchinson Road and Fisher Road. The ministry will have an update on timelines for these improvements following the completion of the designs later this year.”
Wilson said that an email he received from the ministry in March, soon after a previous accident, gave a preliminary overview of what is being considered for the intersections.
He said the ministry proposed at the time that the Cobble Hill/Kilmalu intersection be converted into a full “protected” left-turn traffic light sequence for both northbound and soundbound traffic, and that the Fisher Road intersection, which currently has a protected permissive left turn arrow for only southbound traffic, will see the hardware extended to northbound traffic as well.
As for the Hutchinson Road intersection, Wilson said the intersection’s current traffic lights are proposed to remain the same, except that the signal timing sequences will be modified to allow more time for the advance left-turn movement.
“I know that this is not everything that we asked for, but it is a step in the right direction,” he said in an email in March.
“This is a situation that I will continue to advocate for change for the protection of us all.”