After a lot of hemming and hawing, debating and deliberating, Revelstoke council opted to go out to construction tender on a highway intersection design that would see Bend Road be closed.
Council debated the issue for more than 30 minutes on Tuesday before voting unanimously to approve the design and put the tender on BC Bid this week.
“When we first started this process the problem was the traffic coming off the highway, moving into town,” said councillor Linda Nixon. “I think we need to stay focused on that and we need to move ahead with this project.”
The $1.7 million project includes building a roundabout at Victoria Road and Wright Street and modifying the Mutas Road intersection by restricting left turns into the Tim Hortons/Shell station, and out of the McDonald’s/A&W loop.
Council was thrown for a loop last week when its preferred design, which kept Bend Road open, was deemed unsafe by ICBC. Engineers for the crown corporation wrote in a letter to the city that, “Severe sight line angles and sight obstructions at the intersection of Bend Road with the Shell/Tim Hortons access from Victoria Road create a high potential for right angle collisions.”
Mayor Mark McKee argued for council to stick to its previous decision and keep Bend Road open, saying it could impact neighbouring property owners and would restrict access to and from the site.
Mike Thomas, the city’s director of engineering, warned against closing Bend Road, saying it could jeopardize funding from ICBC and the Ministry of Transportation.
“If we are planning on doing a project that has an element of risk or is unsafe, and they are expected to put money towards it, I think that would be a challenge to support,” Thomas said.
McKee suggested tendering the contract for the roundabout now, and wait before issuing the contract for the rest of the project so they could look at the design for the Mutas intersection in more detail.
“I don’t think the community is 100 per cent convinced that we’ve got the right answer or explored all the options,” he said. “I’m starting to feel we’re under pressure to be making a decision. and I’m not 100 per cent convinced.”
Thomas, sounding frustrated, said it wasn’t a good idea to put out two bids for projects so close together. He also countered the mayor’s contention there wasn’t enough consultation.
“I believe this project has more consultation than just about any other project the city has been involved with over the past few years,” he said.
In the end, council voted unanimously to support the new design and tender the contract. The tender package is expected to go up on BC Bid on Thursday, June 30, and council is scheduled to choose a contractor on July 18.
Construction is expected to take place in the fall with work on the roundabout, while the changes to the Mutas Road intersection would be made next spring.