A Hammond resident who watched a car drive off the road, onto the sidewalk, and past Hammond Elementary School said she is worried for children returning to school next week because of traffic in the area.
The driver, apparently, was impatient with trucks and traffic backed up by the intersection ahead.
Monday morning the woman, who wished to remain anonymous, posted photos of a silver sedan cruising down the walkway past a school zone sign on the Hammond Neighbours Facebook page. There were a lot of angry reactions and more than 100 comments.
“Hammond elementary is our catchment school for kindergarten next year and I am beyond worried for my child’s safety with the proximity to the train tracks, the vehicles that completely ignore the school zone 30kms/hr, and just the volume of traffic right outside the school,” said one mother.
There were numerous similar complaints about traffic in the area, unsafe drivers, and a lack of traffic enforcement.
The witness told The News there is a problem with truck traffic through Hammond, and with the intersection at Maple Crescent and 203rd Street, right beside the school. As traffic from the Golden Ears Bridge has increased, along with more big trucks from Hammond, the intersection is failing, and traffic bogs down, she said.
“It’s becoming more and more of a problem. It’s just a terrible intersection,” she said. “What really worries me is a kid getting hit.
What’s more, trucks don’t navigate the intersection and the narrow streets of Hammond well, she said, and they can be seen hitting curbs and driving outside their lanes.
She has complained to the city, but got no results. She would like to see the intersection improved, or have a truck route through the area that takes tractor-trailers down 207th to Dewdney Trunk Road, then onto other routes to the Golden Ears Bridge.
Mayor Mike Morden is also frustrated with the intersection, and sympathizes with residents.
“I wholeheartedly agree with the concerns raised by the neighbourhood,” he said. “The individual (who drove on the sidewalk), as much as motorists might feel frustrated with the congestion, did break the law and put parents and their kids at risk, an unacceptable dangerous act and clearly against the law.
“I have raised the matter with the RCMP. I have also raised truck driver behavior with the new mill site owners a while ago. I’m sure the police will respond further. Our police have been very responsive to date on our municipal priorities, including work conducted in this area on road and pedestrian safety, which we sincerely appreciate.
“With respect to the reasons why the congestion is occurring, the north end of the Golden Ears bridge is a pinch point and a significant bottleneck for north-south travellers, one that I am directly working on to remedy.”
He said city and TransLink staff are engaged on this problem. The project would cost from $100 to $200 million, and the work is approved as part of a 10-year plan, but not funded.
In the interim, he said the city is taking interim measures including additional signage, road markings, and a speed reader board. A traffic and engineering assessment of the intersection is also in the works.
“The industrial mill site never ran this volume of trucks, the new owner is running much more, as is their right under zoning, however the neighbourhood never contemplated this kind of influx,” said Morden. “Council is clear this situation cannot continue and have been working through this over the last few months.”
Long term, he said, the city depends on senior government partnerships coming together for “the big fix.”
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