Parents waiting for a controlled traffic light to be installed at Unsworth Road and Keith Wilson Road will be waiting longer than expected.
In April, Unsworth elementary received a letter from the City of Chilliwack stating that a light had been approved for the intersection. The letter specified that while construction details and exact dates for installation were not yet available, “initial plans indicate that the install shall take place during the summer and/or early fall months.”
However, when contacted by The Progress earlier this week, city staff said they had never promised the install to take place in the summer, and in fact said it could take well past the winter before construction begins.
Jocelyn Holden, president of Unsworth elementary’s Parents’ Advisory Council, was disappointed, but not surprised.
Parents have been campaigning for a controlled light at the intersection since 2008. Because the intersection is congested with traffic before and after school, and because many vehicles exceed the posted 50 km/h speed limit, parents believe the current marked crosswalk at the intersection is unsafe for students to cross.
Despite those concerns, though, Holden said they have faced repeated bureaucratic obstacles.
“They just keep delaying, delaying, delaying,” she said. “The safety of our kids doesn’t seem to matter.”
The City had approved four traffic light installations in this year’s budget: Teskey Road at Promontory Road, Ashwell Road at Bernard Road, Tyson Road at South Sumas Road, and Unsworth Road at Keith Wilson Road.
The design aspects of those projects have only recently been completed, and will be going out to tender in the next week or so.
But with the signal at Keith Wilson and Unsworth, the City was required to buy additional land from property owners on Keith Wilson so the road could be widened for sidewalks, curbs and gutters to be installed as well. The City is still in negotiations for the land.
The three other signalization projects, which did not require additional land, are expected to be completed by Christmas. Unsworth’s signal will take longer.
With school starting in two weeks, and three classes of full-day kindergarten also starting up, Holden said the already congested intersection will be even more of a nightmare.
“It’s going to be even more disastrous than last year when we only had one kindergarten class leaving in the afternoon – now we have three,” she said.
“They’re just forcing everybody to drive.”