Chemainus Road construction. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Traffic control fiasco on Henry Road

Flagger demonstrates disrespect for local residents and disregard for plain common sense

The Milestone Equipment Contracting Inc. Nanaimo Project Manager advised Friday that Milestone “are not connected with the Traffic Control (flaggers)” on the Henry Road new Roundabout project.

JSK Traffic Services (based in Chemainus), whose logos and phone numbers on some of the road signs have definitely appeared throughout the site, have confirmed by telephone that this “is not our contract, none of our TC people are working on the Milestone project”.

On the afternoon of Oct. 8, the dispatch office sent one of its ‘team leaders’ to check out the project site after the JSK dispatcher disclaimed that any of her staff were working with Milestone Equipment. “The mechanical Go-Stop signs (rigged by the Chemainus Theatre and River Road) are definitely not ours. Milestone Construction is using their own flaggers…”

Let us rewind to Friday, Oct. 8, approximately 12.50 p.m.: stopped in traffic for almost 20 minutes coming into Chemainus from the Crofton Road, just past the Henry Road roundabout. There were no machines, graders, trucks, paving equipment or engineers working or standing on the now single lane roadway into town. It was also lunchtime.

Even so, not until 1:10 p.m. did the incoming vehicles get the Go sign, northbound. In the rear-view mirror and over my shoulder there was traffic backed up all through the first roundabout and halfway up Henry Road by the golf course. Note: if the roundabout traffic here is immovable, this blocks commuters from Crofton heading to work in, say Nanaimo or Ladysmith, and also drivers heading for the BC Ferries terminal.

Speaking of ferries, the construction and also Duncan Paving bosses in charge of the standing TC “robot lights” (in lieu of or in addition to flaggers) to monitor traffic flow seem to have entirely overlooked that there are two other local BC Ferries that drivers are trying to reach – and doubtless missing more than one or two – i.e., Chemainus to/from Thetis and Penelakut Islands, and Crofton to/from Salt Spring Island. Are these drivers really expected to take pot luck (in addition to leaving home or office early) on making it to their ferry destinations?

Also on Friday, the 8th at the same time — with the mechanical TC lights set with timers at 20 minutes each way for single-laning — the southbound traffic trying to leave “downtown” Chemainus heading home from a shift, or to collect their children, to appointments, to the SSI ferry — was backed up right past Fir Street, almost to the new roundabout at Oak Street, including the BC Transit No. 6 bus to Duncan and two school buses!

And earlier this week, upon asking a Milestone Equipment Contracting flagger why wasn’t it possible for them to allow traffic to flow back and forth more quickly – “so as to wait only five to 10 minutes each way?” – this was his unfriendly reply: “We can hold you up for 20 minutes if we want to…” What??

Despite the “legality” of this, his attitude, as a construction site employee, demonstrates disrespect for the local residents and disregard for plain common sense and traffic control efficiency.

Having asked me on the telephone why drivers aiming for the Thetis/Penelakut ferry could not avoid the long Traffic Control lineups, by heading to the docks along Saltair Road from the Highway? (this would involve an 11 kilometre detour via Ladysmith, the only route), the very pleasant executive officer of Milestone Equipment Contracting Nanaimo suggested it would be a good idea to explore more of the Chemainus area layout. He did promise to do what he could to improve and speed up the inflow and outflow of local resident traffic.

For the coming week, we are now at the mercy of Duncan Paving (whose machinery has recently shown up) and North Cowichan District Traffic Control as well. Oh yes, N.C.D., on the advice of the Milestone Equipment CEO, has been the cause of several delays. Need we say more.

J.D. Rollinson,

Chemainus

(Also a former licensed TC person in the Fraser Valley, the Canyon, Hell’s Gate, Chilliwack, Abbotsford and the crazy TCH out of Vancouver).

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