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Qualicum Beach mulls second roundabout
Though there is nothing currently in the works, the Town of Qualicum Beach is considering a traffic roundabout as one possible solution to traffic issues on Highway 19A along the Eaglecrest subdivision.
The subject came up at the recent Eaglecrest Residents’ Association AGM, attended by mayor Teunis Westbroek, coun. Dave Willie and director of engineering Bob Weir.
“It wasn’t the focus of the meeting,” association president Tim Pritchard later told The News. “We invited council, at their offer, and we defined a number of areas to talk about,” explaining that traffic became a hot topic for unrelated political reasons.
“Our issue is we need to look at traffic along 19A in the broader context of the entire Parksville-Qualicum Beach corridor,” Pritchard said.
“It’s all about left hand turns,” he said explaining that residents often have issues with crossing traffic on the busy two-lane highway and that sight lines can be an issue.
“The regional district and highways (provincial government) never saw a need to develop an advanced plan,” explained Weir who said the amount of development along the corridor, especially in the Wembley Mall area, are increasing the need for wider planning.
But he also pointed out that traffic studies don’t support the perception that traffic has increased along the highway yet.
Pritchard admits, “we aren’t holding our breath for quick action,” but said they are thinking bigger and long term, considering things like twinning the highway, thinking of it as a “plan 2020.”
Eaglecrest has three intersections on Highway 19A, a T-intersection at Yambury Rd., the shared Eaglecrest Drive intersection with Chartwell across the highway, and at Village way.
Weir reiterated what he explained at the AGM, that the key issue is limited financial resources.
He broke down the main options pointing out that traffic roundabouts are the provincial government’s current preference. Municipalities have to prove a traffic circle wouldn’t work if they want to install traffic lights.
But that doesn’t mean that would be the town’s first choice, Weir said, pointing out that a roundabout would cost more than a million dollars and are most effective in intersections with similar amounts of traffic from all directions — unlike those along the highway.
He suggested another option to look at is “protected T-intersections” like the one at Martindale Rd. in Parksville, which would cost half as much.
At the AGM, Westbroek highlighted the success of the Rupert Road roundabout — despite controversy and fears beforehand — and said that if or when the time comes, council will look at all the information and work together on the best solution for all Qualicum Beach residents.