The current design plan for the Victoria/Mutas Road intersection is about $400,000 less than previous iterations but about $500,000 over the city’s $1.2 million budget.
Last week, city council received an update on the intersection redesign from McElhannney traffic engineer David Kneeshaw.
Generally, Kneeshaw explained, the overall design hasn’t changed too much from what was previously presented to council. One main difference is that Bend Road is now being left open.
Kneeshaw said the total cost of the design, including reconfigurations at Victoria/Mutis and a new roundabout just east of the CP Rail overpass that would access Wright Street, is now down from about $2.1 million to about $1.7 million. While still over the city’s budget for the project, Kneeshaw doesn’t foresee the cost increasing.
“We have some good information and I think some of our prices are still conservative, so I would say we’re in good shape to stand behind that,” said Kneeshaw.
A staff report notes that if and when the project proceeds to tender, without additional funding sources, the costs for 2016 would be around the budgeted amount, with any increase to be addressed through allocation of reserve funding, deferral of other projects or short-term borrowing.
Coun. Connie Brothers asked if any expropriation would be necessary, but was told all the plans are for city land.
The discussion shifted to Bend Road when Mayor Mark McKee asked if it might be made into a one-way loop, similar to Woodenhead on the other side of Victoria Road.
Kneeshaw said that is not being looked at, adding it wouldn’t change the traffic issue the city is trying to address.
City engineering and public services director Mike Thomas advised against reducing traffic on Bend Road to one way at this time.
“The properties that are vacant and undeveloped adjacent to Bend Road, we need to work out what is going to happen on those properties before we make a decision on a one-way road,” commented Thomas.
Council’s dialogue about Bend Road later led to discussion about a letter received by the city from Shell Canada real estate advisor Ken Marois. In the letter, Marois states keeping Bend Road open doesn’t address Shell’s concerns, explaining the proposed closure of the left-hand turn lane from Victoria Road would greatly affect traffic flow to the local Shell station.
Marois says the city did not seek input from Shell prior to June 3, and advises that unless a mutually agreeable solution is found, the company would consider “taking any and all steps, including legal action,” to prevent the project from moving forward in its current form.
Thomas said he did speak with Shell earlier that day, and they have been part of the stakeholder process since early March.
“They have not actually attended any of those but we have received written comments from them and they’ve received responses back to those,” said Thomas. “Unfortunately, today was the first time that we’ve actually had a conference call… and I think it went quite well from my perspective. We had a good discussion around all of these issues that council has been wrestling with on the matter and being able to explain to Shell where we see community needs and business needs there. I was quite happy with how the conversation went. I’m not sure if it’s the end of the matter with Shell but definitely I thought it was a good opportunity…”
Kneeshaw said he would be meeting with ICBC for input on the current design, and is also awaiting feedback from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.
“They don’t have a particular say in whether we do it or not but they are a potential funding partner,” said Kneeshaw.
Construction of the project is anticipated to begin in the fall.