In the City of Delta there has been a council switcheroo, with the old city manager coming back as the Mayor, and the previous Mayor, octogenarian Lois Jackson coming back to “support” the Mayor as a Councillor. New Mayor and former city manager George Harvie is backing the same old agenda as Jackson did, once again demanding a multi million dollar pedestrian overpass at 52nd Street and Highway 17 linking the new golf course Tsawwassen Springs development (where the Mayor resides) with the Tsawwassen Mills mega mall.
You can see in the current design shown below that there are simple improvements that could be made to make the crossing more comfortable and safer for pedestrians and cyclists. And one of the things that Delta could do immediately is lower the speeds on 52nd Street, which the city has posted at 60 km/h at this location.
Of course, instead of looking at changing the road design, slowing traffic, and giving more priority to pedestrians the choice for Delta was to ask the Province to provide the 20th century solution of ponying up a pedestrian overpass, which inconveniences pedestrians and has challenges for anyone with accessibility issues. This overpass removing pedestrians from the ground plane would cost an estimated five million dollars. But the administration at the City of Delta is the same one that insisted on an overbuilt ten lane Massey Bridge, so the rubric is not for a mediated solution on a redesigned intersection, but a last-century positional one based upon separating pedestrians from traffic.
As the Delta Optimist reports Mayor Harvie stated, “It’s time to do something about a busy intersection by the Tsawwassen Mills before someone is killed. We’ve been asking for that for a long time and, unfortunately, it wasn’t deemed necessary and that’s absolutely unacceptable.”
The previous Provincial Liberal government’s Minister of Transportation Todd Stone had conducted engineering evaluations and found that pedestrian foot traffic was lower than expected to the mall, and there was no “business case” for the building of a separate pedestrian overpass. That Provincial government was willing to cost share Delta’s overpass. Delta’s share would have been equal to one year of the city’s estimated casino revenues to be garnered from the new approved casino beside the Massey Tunnel. This is on the old Town and Country Hotel site, owned by White Spot’s Ron Toigo who also is the developer of the new Tsawwassen Springs golf course community where the proposed pedestrian bridge would be located.
The respected Delta Police Chief Neil Dubord is also in favour of an overpass, concerned that the size of the intersection, the timing of the signal lights and the speed of traffic makes it challenging for pedestrians to cross. All of these concerns could be dealt with directly between the Province and the City of Delta and a redesign done to throat down merging traffic, create larger and safer pedestrian traffic islands and significantly slow down road speeds.
Below is a YouTube video produced by the City of Delta to illustrate the challenges of the newly built intersection at Highway 17 and 52 Street. Surely a more practical solution to make this crossing safer for pedestrians and cyclists can be found.