The Nanoose Bay stretch of Highway 19, a high-crash area that has seen two fatalities this year, continues to be a prime concern for police.
The RCMP’s Central Island Traffic Services division has responded to several severe crashes this year, according to officer in charge Sgt. Darrin Ramey.
“It is a high-crash area compared to other areas in our patrol area and we go out to Tofino, up halfway to Comox and down to Nanaimo,” Ramey said. “It’s one of our priority enforcement areas.”
According to stats from ICBC, between 2011 and 2015 48 crashes occurred on Hwy. 19 at Northwest Bay Rd. (PetroCan gas station).
“It’s a beautiful stretch of highway, very scenic and divided for the most part. For Vancouver Island it’s reasonably straight and reasonably flat but the issues are it is a main transportation route so there’s a lot of traffic going through there, locally speaking,” Ramey said.
Ramey said most collisions occur at intersections, as there are many side streets and driveways that go on to the highway.
He said speed is also a factor.
“Speed does cause more collisions but what it does mostly is it takes a minor collision and makes it a major collision,” Ramey said.
Extra police enforcement has been added to the area, Ramey said, with his unit (Central Island Traffic Services) and Nanaimo’s Integrated Road Safety Unit (IRSU) both patrolling the area.
“Our mandates do merge in speed enforcement and that’s one of Nanaimo’s [IRSU] priority areas as well, so you’re getting [enforcement] from us and them and even the local detachment—Oceanside—spend some time out there,” Ramey said.
According to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MoTI), approximately 30,000 vehicles travel along this stretch of Highway 19 (between Nanaimo and Parksville) every day.
The MoTI is currently working with the Snaw Naw As First Nation to install a traffic light at the intersection of Highway 19 and Lantzville Road, that they say is warranted to improve safety at this intersection as a result of increased developments using Lantzville Road. The light will go live when the adjacent development work nears completion. The ministry anticipates this happening sometime late in 2018 or early 2019.
In addition, the ministry says safety improvements are also underway at Highway 19 and Superior Road. Crews are improving the crosswalk islands to address safety concerns for pedestrians, in particular people with mobility issues.