A traffic light coming to the intersection of Unsworth Road and Keith Wilson Road is long overdue, says Unsworth elementary parents.
The school was notified earlier this week that the City of Chilliwack will be installing a controlled traffic light at the intersection just outside the school sometime this summer.
“This is so critical, because right now we’re at our breaking point,” said Jocelyn Holden, president of Unsworth elementary’s Parents’ Advisory Council. “Parents are fighting, swearing, there’s accidents … I’m at the point now where I’m having to come to the school 20 to 25 minutes after the bell so I don’t have to fight traffic.”
A traffic light wasn’t projected to be installed at the intersection for another four years. But Stewart McLean, chair of the Traffic Advisory Committee, said the sincere concern expressed by parents made it a high priority.
“We recognized that there was serious concern at that intersection,” said McLean. “Once we were able to work out this year’s budget and we saw there were funds available, we decided to do it earlier than planned.”
Parents have been requesting a traffic light be installed for over a year now arguing that the current marked crosswalk at the intersection is unsafe for students to cross. Before and after school the intersection is congested with traffic, and many vehicles exceed the posted 50 km/h speed limit.
“It’s almost suicide trying to cross that road,” expressed one parent in an earlier Progress article.
A traffic study commissioned by the City of Chilliwack last April suggested a full-signal light wouldn’t be required for another four years despite parental concerns. The study indicated that the current volume of traffic was not sufficient enough to warrant a controlled traffic light. Vehicle traffic would need to increase by 60 per cent and pedestrian traffic by 25 per cent in order to justify putting a light in.
Parents were shocked to learn of the date being moved up.
“I had no inkling this was coming down the pipe, there was no indication at all,” said Holden. “I was starting to think that we had done all we could do and I had resigned myself to the fact that we wouldn’t be getting a light until 2015, if that.”
McLean however said that while the Opus report was valid, and reflected several factors in its recommendation, the City also had to look at reality.
“We realized that parents had real concerns about that crossing and about the well-being and safety of their children crossing that street,” said McLean. “And we listened. If we’re able to do something that is a real concern for our community earlier than planned we try to.”
Construction details have not yet been finalized, but it is likely the light will be installed during the summer months.