Few quibbles for Highland Road project

Residents generally happy with widening but have a few worries

Cam Fortems / Kamloops Daily News
March 7, 2013 01:00 AM

Vehicles travel along HIghland Road.

Juniper residents gave thumbs up on Thursday to a proposed road widening of Highland Drive, but expressed concerns ranging from costs to collisions.

The City of Kamloops held an open house at the Valleyview Community Hall to answer questions about its $6-million project expected to open for tenders in May.

The project will see two lanes added, one of them converted to a multi-use path for cyclists and pedestrians to access Juniper Ridge subdivision.

"It's a great project. Its time has come," said 20-year resident Al Michel. "But I'm a little concerned about the multi-use path."

Several residents expressed concerns to City staff at the open house meeting about the path, which is intended to mix pedestrians and cyclists.

"Why don't they ban downhill cyclist traffic?" wondered Michel.

"It's an accident waiting to happen. Someone will wail down the path on a road bike and hit a little old lady or someone in the way. It's not a good mix."

City transportation planner Erin Felker said cyclists heading down the hill will be "encouraged" to use the road. The only cyclists she wants to see on the path heading downhill are parents pulling a trailer, for example, or other slow-moving two-wheelers.

Felker said the City may act to restrict bicycle traffic to one-way only on the path if concerns persist once it opens. There are no plans to place restrictions initially.

If traffic warrants - in 20-plus years - the path will be converted to another lane of traffic and a new multi-use path constructed.

The road gets about 6,000 trips daily, mainly in the peak morning and afternoon commuter periods.

Maryann Hyslop, who cycles up and down the hill, welcomed the plans. She has lived in Juniper Ridge for 35 years.

"I could walk down the hill (at that time) and have two vehicles go by me. That doesn't happen anymore."

Trent Leggett, who owns Juniper Market, likes the project. But he's concerned about potential cost overruns of building atop unstable soils.

"It's a silty piece of earth. I don't know if $6 million will cover it."

City design engineer Jesse Dhillon said a geotechnical report recommends a curb and a gutter along the new road to control water - the ingredient needed to cause problems in silt soils.

"The existing road's pretty solid," Dhillon said. "It tells us what's underneath is pretty good."

Some residents wondered why the intersection with Valleyview Drive, a four-way stop, isn't converted to a roundabout.

But Felker said the roundabout required to accommodate large trucks, for example, would be so large the City would need to acquire neighbouring properties and cut into the silt bluffs.

That was deemed too expensive.

The left-field suggestion of the evening came from Tony Brummel, a Juniper resident. He asked City staff why an alternating, counterflow pattern wasn't designed for the middle lane. Such lanes are converted to one direction or other based on time of day to accommodate traffic flows.

But Felker said, besides cost, the roundabout at the top of the hill naturally restricts traffic flows by itself.


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