Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Downtown paving project has Councillor Cunningham reinforcing need for container truck bypass route

Ongoing paving projects in Prince Rupert had Councillor Cunningham
asking about the progress for a container bypass road in the community

The new blacktop that has started to be put in place through the downtown area of the city has given Councillor Barry Cunningham to revisit the long desired Container Terminal Bypass proposal, bringing the topic up at last weeks City Council Session.

As part of his overview on the theme for Council, Councillor Cunninghan had two themes of interest for Council to review, expressing his thoughts on how the nature and frequency of ongoing truck traffic along the roadway could have a detrimental impact on the finished project.

Mr. Cunningham also outlined his safety concerns for pedestrians throughout the downtown core, particularly as the volume of that truck traffic continues to increase through the city's downtown core.

The major paving project for the summer continues in downtown Prince Rupert
with Second Avenue currently the focus of the paving contractor

The prospect of a container bypass
route along Wantage Road has now
been made part of the larger Airport
Access corridor project that the
City is discussing with the province
As Mayor Brain explained during the May 8th session, the Wantage Road Bypass proposal has now been integrated as part of a larger program under consideration known as PRACA (The Prince Rupert Access Corridor Analysis), a wide ranging transportation project that the City has a working group in place in which to explore further with the province.

The main focus of that proposed road development would be the creation of a road link between Metlkatla, Lax Kw'alaams and the Prince Rupert airport, with a relocation of the airport ferry to cross Prince Rupert harbour to link up with the new airport road.

The City had made their interest in the PRACA concept one of the themes that Council members took with them to the UBCM meetings in Victoria last September.

The original overview of the Tsimshian Peninsula Access Project, which was the previous version of the new PRACA concept can be reviewed from the City's Hays 2.0 plan.

The newer version of PRACA, including the addition of the Wantage Road concept has yet to be updated as part of the City's information presentation.

Last week, Mr. Brain observed how the PRACA proposal was more of a long term ambition and has a number of issues to be worked out yet before we may see any progress towards its development.

"The ultimate issue when it comes to Wantage road, there is a variety of options on how to get truck traffic diverted from downtown, is about highway responsibility. For example if there was a Wantage road bypass, does that become a highway, or does it become Highway 16, which is part of the discussion we are having with the province at the moment." 

As part of his notes on the options for Wantage road, The Mayor explained that if it were developed, one possibility could be to rename that new road as Highway 16, allowing the city to take possession of the highway that currently run through the city.

Returning to his theme of safety through the downtown area, Councillor Cunningham reinforced his concerns making note that the volume of truck traffic crossing the city will now be increasing as the Container Port continues to expand.

As part of some of the discussion on the theme, Councillor Niesh also outlined how the Port may have its own plan to develop its own container port bypass road in the next year to year and a half, set to run towards Ridley Island from the port location, which would reduce some of the traffic through the community.

Mr. Niesh also observed how the traffic levels found in Prince Rupert are not much different than other communities.

"Realistically it is Highway 16 and if you take Terrace as an example, truck traffic isn't diverted around Terrace through a bypass road, it  goes through Terrace, just like it does in every other town along Highway 16. As much as we don't want to see an accident happen in the middle of our town, it is a highway and just because we are at the end of the road, we aren't any different than anyone else."

That was a point that councillor Cunningham challenged a bit, noting that the truck traffic doesn't run through the downtown core areas of those communities along Highway 16 and that there is much more pedestrian traffic using the same streets as the truck traffic in our community than others.

Mayor Brain provided some more background as to how he views the Wantage Road concept, noting for Council the additional benefit that he sees the proposed road. The Mayor suggested that it is more than just a potential container bypass route, expressing his belief that putting a roadway towards the container terminal in that location could offer up the opportunity to open up land on both sides of the area for future development.

A larger overview of the discussion can be found on our Council Timeline feature here.

As well, the City's Video Archive features an account of the road concerns starting at the one hour thirty five minute mark and picking up again at the one hour forty one minute point carrying through to the end of the council session.

For more items related to City Council Discussions see our archive page here.

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