Utility poles embedded in the roadway along North Bluff Road in White Rock are contributing to dangerous conditions for pedestrians and motorists alike, officials acknowledged this week.
The situation has existed for “many years,” the city’s director of municipal engineering and municipal operations told council Monday – but it’s about to change.
In reporting on plans to improve the 1½-kilometre thoroughfare between Martin Street and Stayte Road, Rob Thompson said proposed steps include widening the sidewalk by one metre for one block between Foster Street and Johnston Road to encapsulate the bases of the offending poles.
According to ICBC, the block logged more than 200 “vehicle incidents” between 2006 and 2010, he said.
“That works out to one per week,” Thompson said, noting a confidentiality agreement prevents him from releasing specific details of the incidents, other than the fact the majority occurred on the road’s White Rock side, rather than City of Surrey’s north side.
Funding totalling $1.1 million has been identified in the city’s budget for the work. Thomspon named the installation of new bus shelters, improved landscaping and improved wheelchair ramps as among other work that will be considered.
He noted preliminary discussions are underway with the City of Surrey regarding creation of a safe pedestrian crossing between Martin Street and Johnston – a project that council last month voted to allocate $50,000 for from the city’s 2010 general surplus.
As well, discussions have been initiated with Coast Mountain Bus Company and TransLink regarding the possibility of their contributing to improvements.
Addressing the utility poles is long overdue, South Surrey resident Don Pitcairn told council, in a delegation asking the city to take action on 70 such poles that are in the North Bluff roadway. He noted he first raised the issue two years ago, and remembers council directing staff to produce a safety report on it.
“Unfortunately, I am still waiting for this report,” he said.
In responding to questioning from Mayor Catherine Ferguson regarding the report, city manager Peggy Clark confirmed a motion was made by council, however, “the former director was not able to get to this.”
“It’s being brought forward now,” Clark said. “You’ll see… Mr. Thompson is proposing a solution.”
Pitcairn asked council to attach black-and-yellow signs to the offending poles until they can be moved out of the roadway, and for the city to ask the appropriate agencies to move them.
Council voted to request details of the right-of-way agreements held by the utilities. Ferguson also suggested asking for safety reports on poles damaged by vehicular impact.
Regarding the work proposed in Thompson’s report, Ferguson said the process should include plans to explore the potential impact of the work on area businesses.
“Safety is a priority, but we have to also take into account how those businesses are affected,” Ferguson said.
Regarding a question from Coun. Grant Meyer as to whether there is still consideration being given to “under-grounding” the utility lines, Thompson said there is “always hope.”
He noted the cost of such work is $80,000 to $100,000 per pole.
Council voted unanimously in favour of moving the improvement efforts forward.
A survey of the targeted area was to begin Tuesday. Construction is anticipated to begin in June/July, with completion in August.