Agassiz Ave resident says roundabouts a cause for concern

Agassiz Ave resident says roundabouts a cause for concern

Completed construction creates new worries for resident

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story attributed quotes from the District of Kent to Henry Kuipers, when in fact the person spoken to was Mick Thiessen, the Director of Engineering Services. The Observer regrets this error.

After months of heavy dust, ground-shaking and road closures, the construction on Agassiz Avenue is coming to a close.

The project, started in May, was a complete upgrade for service and below-ground infrastructure, with the primary purpose of providing water main services and upgrading sanitary and storm sewer lines. But above-ground work included new “traffic calming” measures: roundabouts to slow vehicles on Agassiz Avenue.

Now, only signage, planting and a few other small details are left before the project is complete.

But at least one resident has concerns about what’s being left behind.

Dean Simms lives on the corner of Agassiz Avenue and Centennial Avenue. The summer of construction was a hassle for Simms, with part of his driveway so destroyed by trucks and equipment that the contracted construction company, Timbro Contracting, replaced it.

But Simms wasn’t phased by the months of work outside his home. Instead his concern is the safety of the new road and traffic circle design.

With one of two roundabouts now located on the intersection outside his home, Simms has watched traffic come through, and says the circle has not had a “calming” effect.

“It doesn’t really slow people down,” Simms says, adding bigger vehicles can’t easily fit around the circle, and end up having to go through it the wrong way or being forced to back up and readjust to make their way through.

“How are trailers going to get around that legally?” Simms asks.

More pressing is that the curb around his property was shaved down for a future sidewalk, something Simms says exposes his property to drivers who “fly through the roundabout.”

“What happens if I’m standing, or my wife or grandkids are standing, at the edge of that driveway and some jerk comes flying around the roundabout and kills one of my family members?

“Somebody could come flying down, hit the median and launch right into here,” Simms adds, gesturing to his home.

He says he has brought his concerns to council but doesn’t feel any adequate solutions have been presented.

District of Kent’s Director of Engineering Services Mick Thiessen says Agassiz Avenue is a “collector road,” bringing traffic into local or subdivision roads and providing access to both residents and through traffic – which is why speed can easily become an issue.

He says residents were consulted before the project started and an engineer was contracted for the design and dimensions.

“We surveyed the residents and the majority of them were in favour of traffic calming,” he says. “Traffic circles were a consideration. [Agassiz Avenue] is a collector road so we wanted to look at something that would still allow traffic movement.”

Thiessen says council has heard both complaints and praise for the new roundabouts. “We’ve heard both that they were too small, and [from] some that they were too big,” he says, adding the District’s consulting engineer designed the circles for all vehicles to fir through both sides. “The side that’s on the stem section of the T-intersection, you have to use the steering wheel to navigate through there, and that requires you to slow down,” Thiessen says.

Thiessen says once signage is up and no-parking zones are established, everything should run smoothly. “We appreciate residents’ patience and cooperation in working through this,” he adds.