Brad West has unburdened himself about traffic problems on the Mary Hill Bypass in the hopes of garnering provincial support for upgrades.
Citing the ministry of transportation's own study, the Port Coquitlam mayor hopes to advance several projects that have been on the books for months, if not years.
West shared via social media his June 21 letter to transportation minister Rob Fleming, saying the road is in "desperate need" of improvements.
In his letter, West cites the July 2021 Highway 7B Mary Hill Bypass Corridor Study, which identified bus stops along the stretch as an "immediate risk" as well as concerns about potentially dangerous intersections along the route.
West calls for improvements to make drivers, cyclists and transit riders safer.
"Given the risk and safety concerns acknowledged at these locations, we are looking for your support to implement the bus stop improvements immediately, move forward construction of the Shaughnessy Street intersection and design of the Broadway Street intersection, and proceed with further design for the active transportation improvements as soon as possible," the letter states.
West's letter contends that work is needed to improve safety for bus commuters and with additional bus stops and road side improvements.
Under his plan, Shaughnessy and Broadway intersections would be replaced with interchanges, as recommended by the 2021 study, while West would also like to see multi-use paths to fill gaps in bike routes.
With speeds of between 60 and 80 km, the bypass has a history of accidents, including in recent weeks, some of which tie up traffic for hours, and many of them occur in intersections.
ICBC data shows that as many as 1,936 accidents occurred between 2014 and 2017, implying that 484 accidents take place on average a year, or more than one a day, West's letter states.
More and safer bus stops needed
Among the projects detailed include:
- Safety improvements to two bus stops along the route and the addition of bus stops at Broadway Street for workers in the industrial area. These projects have been on the books since 2006, and were re-visited in 2019. However, the city was told the province had other priorities.
- Replacing Shaughnessy Street and Broadway Street intersections with interchanges as recommended in the 2021 study to "remove the highest volume and speed movements."
In his letter, West lays out the problems with the intersections and why they need to be upgraded.
"The absence of acceleration lanes at these locations means that vehicles leaving Port Coquitlam have to wait long periods for a safe gap in traffic which results in excessive queuing and illegal driving behaviours from frustrated motorists," he says.
"Of greater concern is that vehicles have no room to accelerate in order to merge safely with vehicles travelling on the bypass."
As well, there isn't "adequate storage" for drivers turning left onto Shaughnessy Street or Broadway Street, resulting in drivers queuing beyond the turning lanes into travel lanes.
West also wants similar improvements for Pitt River Road and Kingsway Avenue along the bypass.
Currently, design is underway for an interchange at Shaughnessy Street while it has yet to begin for a Broadway interchange, according to his letter.
Failing to fix problems will cause "frustration," says West in his letter to Fleming, and will lead to "illegal driving behaviours."
As for the bike routes, two have been proposed, but are currently stalled.
Still, West is hoping that with the province's support the projects will be developed to promote safe active routes through the city.
Here's what's currently on the list:
- A route between Argue Street and Maquabeak Park in Coquitlam, announced by the Ministry of Transportation in 2020 but later rescinded
- Upgrades to the existing Traboulay PoCo Trail and a new multi-use path connection between United Boulevard and Shaughnessy Street were recommended but put on hold for more study through sensitive ecological and archaeological areas