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Take a deep breath — it’s construction season

April 16, 2021

A flagger directs traffic at a closed intersection in Chemainus. Getting eye-to-eye contact with a flag person before proceeding gives comfort to both parties, writes Steve Wallace. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST


One of the ways successful governments at all levels kickstart an economic recovery is to engage in municipal infrastructure projects. After a prolonged pandemic, such as the one we are now experiencing, government stimulus is the order of the day. Countries all over the world are engaged in this activity. Canada and B.C. are no exception.

We are now fully engaged in our “fifth” season of the year. You guessed it, construction season. Federal funds are flowing. Can a federal election be far behind?

The transportation system is the major recipient of these funds, often matched or coupled with funding by provinces and municipalities. Some of these projects will be designed to solve the left turn lock-up lunacy, which plagues our busier intersections. There are several intersections with left turn arrows, which, are separate from the oncoming green light cycle, and follow the oncoming green light traffic signal and subsequent flow. This separation reduces the likelihood of a left-turn crash.

Roundabouts, circles and diverters are a welcomed addition to our freedom to move. Cyclists and bus drivers like the absence of the left turn in front of oncoming traffic. They feel a lot safer not having to do so. Pedestrians appreciate the one direction flow. Diverters are on residential streets in neighbourhoods. They act as uncontrolled intersections. Circles are on single lane connector streets. Roundabouts are multi-lane circles, usually on major thoroughfares. There are both overhead and pavement markings to tell drivers what is expected of them in each lane.

Traffic engineers take a bow. My experience with engineers has always been relatively positive. Involvement with planners is a whole different matter. You can always tell a planner, but not very much. Enough said!

This construction season will be the busiest ever. We should all take a collective deep breath and have some consideration for those toiling in the heat and other elements to make our future commute easier and more enjoyable. Pay special attention to flaggers. They have no structural protection and are vulnerable to the inattentive and distracted drivers among us. Keep your distance when stopped before being directed to proceed. Remember flaggers trump directional signs. There is no need to stop at a stop sign when directed through a construction site by a flag-person. They are not permitted to direct traffic contrary to intersection traffic lights. Only a police officer or other special constables can do so. Getting eye-to-eye contact with a flag person before proceeding gives comfort to both parties.

There have been several traffic calming initiatives throughout B.C. Boulevard greenery consisting of small trees and shrubs on connector roads within cities have a calming effect on drivers and other commuters. Left turn bays, which ensure through traffic is not interrupted, provide for a constant flow of motor vehicle and other traffic.

Timing of traffic signals has always been a controversial topic. The general plan is to give preference to the direction with a greater volume of traffic. Traffic engineers can adjust the traffic signals to accommodate this higher priority traffic movement. There is also a demand magnet system which will only allow vehicle traffic to be recognized once the looping device imbedded in the pavement has been activated. The metal of motor vehicles will easily activate the mechanism. Bicyclists have a difficult time with this activation and riders often must wander over and push the pedestrian button to get a through on the green light. It is important to note that all major intersections are now governed by these magnets. Some have been recently paved over and the tell-tale circular, rectangle and diamond shaped cuts are no longer identifiable. They are hidden by the new pavement.

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