Feedback was mixed on a proposed revamp of Revelstoke’s Trans-Canada Highway intersection at an open house on Wednesday.
“There’s mixed reactions,” said David Kneeshaw, an engineering consultant with McElhanney, the consulting firm contracted to re-design the intersection. “Everyone who’s listened to how this should operate has agreed it will be better. A lot of people have said it’s not as good as they would like.
“We still have to work with real world situations. There will still be lots of cars.”
Preliminary plans to re-design the intersection of Victoria Road and Mutas Road, where McDonald’s, A&W, Tim Horton’s and Shell is located, were presented to the public at Wednesday. The intersection has become increasingly congested in recent years, especially on busy summer weekends, when backed up traffic overflows onto the highway.
The plan presented eliminates the possibility of making a left hand turn from Victoria Road into the Shell station, and turning left from the McDonald’s/A&W loop onto Victoria Road. Kneeshaw said those movements, as well as people trying to cross Victoria Road from one side to the other, are the main causes of the congestion.
“What happens when those vehicles are doing that is it creates gridlock there,” he said. “The biggest safety concern is when people are jamming up the road, the backup can encroach on the highway. That’s where the high speed traffic is and that’s a real safety concern for (the Ministry of Transportation).”
Drivers coming off the Trans-Canada Highway who want to turn into Tim Horton’s will be expected to drive down Victoria Road to Wright Street, around a proposed roundabout, and back up Victoria, where they can turn right into Tim Horton’s.
Drivers who want to turn out left of McDonald’s and back to the highway will instead have to turn right, go around the roundabout, and then head back to the Trans-Canada.
Drivers coming from town will still be able to turn left to get into McDonald’s/A&W, and drivers going back to town will be able to to turn left out of the Shell/Tim Horton’s onto Victoria Road.
“By doing what we did, we can allow people from town to access any of these businesses and get back to town again without crossing the highway,” said Kneeshaw.
The other major change is that it’s no longer possible to loop around from Frontage Road, which connects Subway to Shell, and onto Bend Road and back to the intersection of the Trans-Canada and Highway 23 North. Kneeshaw said the issue with keeping the Frontage/Bend loop in place is that it forces drivers turning in and out of the Shell Station to cross that road.
“By getting rid of it, things work far smoother, but we do lose some things in the process,” he said. “We’re going back to look at some compromises there.”
PHOTO: This image shows the proposed changes to the Mutas Road intersection. ~ Image by McElhanney Consulting Services, City of Revelstoke
About 100 people came out for the open house and several concerns were raised. Many people wondered how big tractor-trailers will navigate the roundabout, especially in the winter.
“It won’t work,” said Peter Bernacki. “Let’s treat them like they don’t know nothing, because it’s going to be trouble.”
He suggested keeping the intersection as is, hiring flaggers for the busiest days, and delaying any work until a “foolproof” design is created.
Mike Curran said they should close off access in and out of the Shell station from Victoria Road, and force people to get there via the Highway 23 North intersection.
“You have to be able to move the volume somewhere else and still have the ability to get the customers to the business they want to go to, instead if making a giant congestion pile,” he said. “If people want to go to Tim Horton’s, they’re going to go Tim Horton’s.”
Conversely, Tanya Secord said the solution wasn’t fair to Shell and Tim Horton’s, since it blocks the left turn access for people coming from the highway.
“I don’t think it’s user friendly,” she said. “My big thing is it’s not a fair plan.”
Others questioned the need for a second roundabout at Laforme Boulevard and Fraser Drive. Mike Thomas, the city’s director of engineering, said that wasn’t in the plans for the short-term, but could be put in place in the future if more development takes place on the other side of the highway. “It’s something to manage that traffic demand in the future, but not in the short term,” he said.
A meeting was held earlier in the day with the consultants, city council and the affected business owners to get their input.
The Review contacted the owners of McDonald’s and Tim Horton’s. The former said they were out of town until Wednesday night and hadn’t had enough time to consider the proposal. The latter wrote they “don’t really have anything to say,” in an e-mail responding to a request for an interview. We are awaiting feedback from A&W and have not contacted Shell, Super 8, or the owners of the new Petro Canada.
Kneeshaw said they would be taking the feedback and refining the design.
“I would say we have a few out of the box things we want to look at to answer the questions that have been asked today,” he said. “We’ll tune this up, but my feeling is it will stay more or less the same.”