The traffic light installation delay at Unsworth Road and Keith Wilson Road is not the city’s fault, says city Coun. Stewart McLean.
In a phone interview with The Progress, McLean said he understood the growing frustration from parents with children attending Unsworth elementary who have been requesting a traffic light installed at the intersection for years. But the city’s hands are tied, he said.
City council approved a traffic light installation at the intersection in the spring, and city officials sent a letter to the school shortly after indicating the installation would take place during the summer or early fall months.
Last month The Progress learned the project had been delayed due to the city requiring extra land on Keith Wilson Road in order to widen the road for sidewalks, curbs and gutters to be installed with the light.
The city is still in negotiations with property owners for the land acquisition.
“In order to put the light and sidewalk in that’s needed there at that intersection, we needed to acquire a small strip of property which we don’t own,” said McLean, chair of the city’s transportation committee.
“That’s been the hold up. It’s not the city holding it up. Until we can finalize the bits of property we need, we can’t go ahead with the project.”
Still, the installation, along with three other traffic light installations approved for this year, have all gone out to tender, “so that we will be ready to go with the work that needs to be done as soon as we have that land acquisition sorted out,” said McLean.
“We’re trying to get it done as soon as possible, we know the issues there … but it’s hard for some people to understand that we can’t just go and plunk a light in there. It’s more complicated than that.”
City officials told The Progress last month construction likely wouldn’t start until well past winter.
Parent Jocelyn Holden, president of Unsworth elementary’s Parents’ Advisory Council, is concerned the project will be scrapped if a new council is elected come November.
Holden has been leading the fight for a 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.
“My concern now is that it’s an election year and if we get a new council, and that money isn’t spent by the time they take office, are they not able to re-prioritize it,” asked Holden. “So many things can change.
“I’m getting to the point where I just don’t have any energy left to deal with them.”