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City seeking to create a safer McGill Road

Council had requested recommendations for safety improvements to the area following the death last year of 54-year-old Thompson Rivers University employee Lucy Phua, who was struck and killed by a vehicle at the intersection of University Drive and McGill Road.
McGill Road work
Roadwork unrelated to proposed safety improvements continues along McGill Road.

The City of Kamloops has come up with a strategy for improvements to the McGill Road corridor, which follows calls from the public to make the area safer for pedestrians.

On Monday, staff presented the strategy to the city’s development and sustainability committee, including ICBC collision data, a series of short- to long-term actions and a request for council to authorize those actions at a future meeting.

The city’s transportation manager, Purvez Irani, said staff conducted a safety check of the area, which spans McGill Road between West Columbia Street and Hillside Drive, and found no immediate actions were required. Staff looked at sight lines, pavement markings, signage, let-downs and more.

“We did a visual check of the corridor and there was no immediate issue there that we had to take care of right away,” Irani said.

Council had requested recommendations for safety improvements to the area following the death last year of 54-year-old Thompson Rivers University employee Lucy Phua, who was struck and killed by a vehicle at the intersection of University Drive and McGill Road.

Members of the public subsequently called for safety improvements in the area near TRU, which had before the pandemic experienced high pedestrian traffic.

ICBC collision data over five years, from 2014 to 2018, shows the intersections of West Columbia Street and McGill Road and Summit Drive and McGill Road had the highest number of collisions in the corridor, at 156 (West Columbia Street) and 146 (Summit Drive).

The intersection with the highest number of collisions, West Columbia Street and McGill Road, saw 96 of its 156 collisions result in only property damage, while 56 resulted in injuries, the most injuries of any intersection on the McGill Road corridor over that five-year period.

Irani said the West Columbia Street and Summit Drive intersection on McGill Road has among the highest traffic volumes in the city, noting it is not uncommon for high volume intersections to have more collisions.

No fatalities resulted from collisions along the corridor over ICBC’s five-year data period, which predated by one year the death of Phua. The ICBC data shows five collisions occurred at the intersection where Phua was killed over the five-year period, with two resulting in injuries.

Another area on the corridor, meanwhile, appears to be more dangerous for pedestrians.

ICBC data shows four of the 51 injuries reported at the Summit Drive and McGill Road intersection involved a pedestrian, with all four reports indicating the pedestrian was struck in a crosswalk by a left-turning driver.

The city is looking to build a pedestrian bridge across busy Summit Drive, which is used as a dangerous goods route and is situated between student housing and the university.

A total of five pedestrian-involved collisions along the McGill Road corridor were reported by ICBC over five years, also involving one at the McGill Road and West Columbia Street intersection. On average, the area sees about one pedestrian-involved collision per year, the data shows.

Short-term recommendations — which can be implemented within one year and without added financial costs to the city — include continuing a speed-reader board program, which reminds drivers to lower speeds, ICBC-Thompson Rivers University safety campaigns, RCMP enforcement, reducing the Summit Drive speed limit to 50 km/hour, reviewing signal timing and relocating transit stops to signalized intersections, rather than mid-block.

Medium-term solutions, which would take two to four years, include adding pedestrian and cycling facilities along McGill Road, removing right-turn islands at all intersections, constructing a sidewalk on the south side of McGill Road between Dalhousie Drive and Hillside Drive, reviewing street lighting and assessing feasibility of installing roundabouts at certain intersections to reduce speed and provide a “gateway effect to the University District,” the city report states.

Longer-term solutions include monitoring and a McGill Road safety audit.