FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Fort St. John City Council could be making a decision next Monday on what to do about the problem intersection at 108th St. where it meets Alaska Road North in Fort St. John.
Last December, Council voted in favour of having staff enter into discussions with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and affected businesses regarding the installation of no-post barriers on 108th St. at the Alaska Road North intersection.
In a report set to go before Council at Monday’s Committee of the Whole meeting, the City’s General Manager of Integrated Services Victor Shopland lays out two options for Council to consider: either have a barrier erected on 108th St. and for the Ministry of Transportation to install signage on the Alaska Highway, or maintain the status quo.
With the erection of barriers, motorists would be redirected to 122th St., with northbound motorists making two right-hand turns to access the businesses, while southbound traffic would still be able to make a left-hand turn off of the Alaska Highway onto Alaska Road.
In early June, the City’s Engineering Manager visited each of the businesses in the area that would be directly affected by the traffic change, and introduced the plan to erect no-post barriers.
On June 22nd, Shopland met with representatives of all the interested businesses, including those from Chevron, MicSuds, McDonald’s, Fort Motors, Pimm’s Production, and the Pomeroy Hotel.
Shopland says in his report that there were significant concerns expressed at the meeting by the business representatives, specifically about the potential loss of business with access being restricted from the highway at the intersection.
In an email to Shopland, McDonalds owner Brian Boresky said he estimated that removing the option for motorists to make a left turn off of 108th St. would result in a 20 percent drop in sales.
“Recently we completed a multi-million dollar renovation which was approved by the City Planning Department and if I had known about this barrier proposal I would have never spent this kind of money and may have even looked at relocating the Restaurant,” wrote Boresky. “My biggest concern was that there was no consultation from the City with myself or the rest of the businesses that would be impacted by this proposal. I feel that there are better solutions available to address the intersection to ensure safety concerns are met while at the same time keeping the access to the local businesses unrestricted.”
Boresky includes several alternative options, including installing advance left-turn signals on the Alaska Highway at the intersection, and painting white hatching across the southbound lanes of 108th street at the intersection to help keep the intersection clear.
Fort Motors President Bud Williamson also voiced concerns, saying that during the construction of Alaska Road over a two-month span last year, Fort Motors say a 20-25 percent drop in sales and a 40 percent drop in profits.
“To block traffic coming in from the highway would be devastating for us,” writes Williamson. “The next intersection at Murray GM would be the only highway access for my potential customers and they have to drive by my biggest competitor to get to my store.”
Pimm’s Production Equipment General Manager Ted Pimm also expressed opposition, saying that his business feels that the City should have more consultation with the businesses on Alaska Road before making a decision.