News Local

Traffic safety measures needed for school kids in New West 0

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver

A crossing guard at John Robson Elementary assists children and parents crossing at the intersection
of Queens Ave. and 8th St. in New Westminster Monday. (CARMINE MARINELLI/24 HOURS)

A crossing guard at John Robson Elementary assists children and parents crossing at the intersection of Queens Ave. and 8th St. in New Westminster Monday. (CARMINE MARINELLI/24 HOURS)

With the opening of the new Port Mann Bridge in December, the potential for increased traffic through New Westminster has parents concerned the city isn't doing enough to enhance safety around schools.

Paul Johansen, with the city's District Parent Advisory Committee, said students are already dodging traffic daily as cars and trucks rumble along heavy arterials such as McBride Boulevard, Royal Avenue and Brunette Avenue.

At least five schools are located within 75 metres of heavy routes.

School board trustee Jonina Campbell said she would oppose any increase in traffic, but emphasized a "safer travelling" program was adopted by the school board earlier this year.

"These are comprehensive maps with parent input," she said. "They're able to map out what was the safest, most popular walking route to all our elementary schools in New Westminster."

But DPAC's Johansen, a father of three himself, said not enough students use them. He would prefer additional crossing guards at high-risk intersections.

In the last year alone, according to ICBC, five pedestrians under 19-years-old were struck in New Westminster traffic accidents.

"To take the (safer travelling route), they have to walk so far out of the way, around all the apartments nearby, a mile and a half out of the way. They're not going to do that," Johansen said.

"No one uses it."

Eugene Wat, city manager of infrastructure planning, said there would undoubtedly be higher traffic coming through the Patullo Bridge from commuters who want to avoid the Port Mann's tolls.

But the city has yet to add further traffic calming measures, preferring to wait until they know the full extent of the increase.

"We are preparing to do some traffic counting right now, as well as once the bridge is open and the traffic pattern is stabilized," he said.

"It's difficult to guess where the traffic might permeate."

TransLink senior project manager Darren Woodworth said tolling the Patullo to curb the flow isn't being considered right now, either.

Several options, including removing the Patullo all together, moving it to other locations, or widening and narrowing the bridge, have been presented to the community.

Additional details on the options will be released by June 2013, he said.


Email: michael.mui@sunmedia.ca


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