A proposal to build a roundabout on Highway 5 at the junction with the road to Wells Gray Park is going ahead.
“I think it’s an excellent idea,” said Mayor John Harwood. “It will help us to meet a list of objectives.”
Speaking on Wednesday, the mayor said he expected survey work to begin right away, with construction to be completed by next spring.
The first objective the roundabout would meet would be to reduce the speed of traffic, he said. Vehicles approaching the intersection from the east are the main problem. They’ve gone 300 km without slowing down and many drivers find it difficult to do so when entering Clearwater – especially when it isn’t clear that there is a town here.
Having a roundabout would reinforce to travelers that Clearwater exists as a community, the mayor felt.
Roundabouts are much safer than other intersection designs, Harwood said. Collisions, when they do happen, are at lower speeds and tend to be sideswipes rather than T-bones.
Another objective would be to highlight the road to Wells Gray Park.
The middle of the roundabout wouldn’t just be grass and shrubs, but would serve as a gateway and help direct travelers to the park, he said.
According to a media release from District of Clearwater, the district and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure have been working together for the past few years to implement a strategy for a safer highway corridor.
The junction of Highway 5 and the road to Wells Gray Park is the primary pedestrian crossing within the municipality and so has been a primary concern.
After an engineer assessment the ministry suggested a roundabout.
An open house was held last March and, although the topic was debated passionately, a majority of those in attendance supported the roundabout, according to the media release.
A roundabout would slow down traffic, reduce highway access wait time and improve traffic flow from Park Drive and Clearwater Valley Road.
Sidewalks and crosswalks would ensure pedestrian safety. The mayor noted that pedestrians would need to cross only one lane of traffic at a time.
The roundabout would be the first stage of a traffic safety strategy for the Highway 5 corridor. The intersection of Highway 5 and Old North Thompson Highway/Clearwater Valley Road at the Wells Gray Inn also is a concern.
Ministry engineers have assured the District that the roundabout would be designed to accommodate all possible vehicle combinations, including extraordinary loads.
The project would include signage to inform drivers on how to safely use the roundabout.
The Ministry would cover the majority of costs directly associated with the project.
Further information about roundabouts is available at www.th.gov.bc.ca/roundabouts/index.html.