Traffic at Evans elementary has gotten worse, not better, thanks to a change at the city level.
That was one of several traffic complaints that greeted school trustees as they met for their first school board meeting Sept. 19. Where there was always just a single yellow line dividing traffic in front of the school on Evans Road, there is now a double lined reinforced with tall, yellow traffic bollards that prevent southbound traffic from turning left.
The change also means vehicles can no longer turn left coming out of the school’s sole exit point. The change was made just a few weeks before school started, and came as a surprise to parents who drive their children to school.
One of them was Jason Hughes, who took the opportunity to voice his concerns publicly to the school board last week.
“They’ve taken a small problem and turned it into a big one,” he said.
The change was intended to “keep traffic flowing” in the area, Hughes was told by the city employee he contacted. But all it’s done, he says, is move the problems further along Evans. And it’s creating a dangerous short-cut, he adds.
His own son was walking near the Wells Supermarket on one of the first days of school. A car cut quickly through that store’s parking lot and almost hit the group of walkers before speeding back down Evans, north toward the school.
“It’s becoming unsafe,” he says, “and I’m going to have to start driving my son and I will be adding to the problem.”
But the problem could be alleviated eventually. The school district recently purchased the property south of the school, with the intention of expanding their parking lot. Currently, very few cars can park at the school and traffic backs up on Evans Road. The house that sat on the property has been removed, but the district is still in the planning stages of the new parking plan.
The district announced the purchase of the property back in April 2017.
And the district’s secretary treasurer, Gerry Slykhuis, said that staff has been asked to work with the city on a better solution.
“What that entails is us having some discussions with City staff, and then providing our suggestions to them,” he says. “The Evans parking lot is slated to be done this summer . It will certainly help with parking and parking lot congestion, but not have much impact on traffic flow.”
The changes seem to stem from a vote at the Transporation Advisory Committee level, on June 15. When the City of Chilliwack held a public engagement meeting in the spring, the public had raised a request to reduce the area around Evans elementary to a 30 km/h zone. The committee looked at that request and decided to keep the 50 km/h limit but add the left-turn prohibition, as well as “visual zone enhancements to heighten motorist awareness of the school zone.”
The area now features freshly-painted double solid lines, marked bike lanes, and two sets of bollards.