Traffic has been restricted to one lane through Chemainus during the underground utility project. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Balancing act on traffic stops

Alternating directions more quickly should be implemented on Chemainus Road

One thing has become readily apparent during the underground utility work being done on Chemainus Road: a lot of cars go in and out of Chemainus on any given day.

Keeping everybody happy during a construction project is always difficult. The balance between getting the job done and maintaining traffic flow is a delicate one, especially along such a main artery.

Darrel Tabbernor, who has worked as a flagger from Port Renfrew to Qualicum, expressed his thanks on Facebook this week to the people driving through the work site.

“I must say that, as a whole, the drivers and pedestrians here are the most patient, understanding and friendly people I have encountered thus far,” he wrote.

“Even when the highway traffic was detoured down Henry Road and the back-up seemed to stretch to Crofton, still most people were pleasant.”

The flaggers, he pointed out, have no control over the length of traffic stoppages. Safety is always the top priority.

Most of the time, the stops have been minimal. Workers have gone about their business in one closed lane, with alternating traffic getting past in the other lane.

There are always exceptions, of course. One day last week the wait time was 35 minutes to get through Chemainus heading south due to a couple of circumstances.

During peak afternoon hours, it might be better to either count cars or have a time limit before the traffic direction through the work site changes.

In this case, upwards of 90-100 cars went through heading north without vehicles being stopped for a direction change. That’s too many vehicles and too long to wait.

Then, a flagger was unaware of a stalled vehicle when the switch was made to allow southbound vehicles through. As a result of a gap in the traffic, the flagger must have thought that was all the cars lined up in that direction and the switch was made far too soon to the other direction again for another 90-100 cars to pass while the other line must have actually snaked as far as Saltair.

No situation is ever perfect, but all drivers want to see is a quicker alternating system to keep the sides as balanced as possible and tempers in check.

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