Editorial: Keep eyes on the right roads

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Efforts to improve safety on Salt Spring’s roadways should be applauded in principle, but it only makes sense to undertake them if they solve an identifiable problem.

At their last public meeting, Salt Spring Island Transportation Commission members agreed to ask the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to examine four island road areas, pick two of them and offer ways to improve safety at those spots.

Three of the suggested are intersections: Southey Point and North End roads; Fulford-Ganges and Beddis/Charlesworth roads; and Booth Canal and Rainbow roads; and the fourth is the Vesuvius Bay Road curve between the churches. The suggested locations were brought to the SSITC by a member of the public last fall.

However, a look at official ICBC crash statistics, as detailed in our story on page 3 of this paper, shows that the four areas discussed at the commission meeting do not make the list. Between six and 16 crashes were recorded from 2013 to 2017 at seven intersections in and near the Ganges area, but none at the four raised in the SSITC meeting.

A case could be made to improve any number of intersections or stretches of road on Salt Spring Island, but if there’s no documentation to support a need for change, i.e. through accidents occurring in those spots, it seems unlikely that the transportation ministry will give them any consideration.

The ICBC statistics show that installing a four-way stop at Central greatly reduced crashes at that intersection. Ironically it is still the area with the highest number from 2013 to 2017. 

There should be no harm in the SSITC asking for transportation ministry resources to be spent on investigating the four areas in question, but that isn’t the case if more important safety-related projects are delayed as a result. As the McElhanney road condition report done as part of the incorporation study process in 2016 revealed, numerous Salt Spring roads need upgrading and rehabilitation. Trouble spots have only gotten worse since then, and three major washouts have required MoTI attention.

We have enough difficulty wrangling approval for things like road-line paint out of the south Vancouver Island MoTI office without distracting them with proposed new, less critical projects.

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