People rat running through Annacis Island to avoid Alex Fraser Bridge traffic during rush hour should be ready to pay.
That’s the message from Delta council and the police department, which will be cracking down on drivers contributing to road rage incidents and crazy congestion.
During the evening rush hour – mainly between 3 and 6 p.m. – many motorists heading southbound over the Alex Fraser Bridge stream down the Annacis off-ramp from the Highway 91 Connector onto Cliveden Avenue, where they use business parking lots to make a quick U-turn and head back up onto the bridge.
The brief foray onto Annacis saves those drivers time by bypassing much of the bridge line-up, but island workers and business managers say their commutes have become intolerable as the short-cutters flood Cliveden and box them in.
It’s causing traffic snarls and road rage incidents, police say.
The situation is made worse because of increased southbound traffic on the bridge as drivers avoid tolled crossings, such as the Port Mann and Golden Ears bridges.
A 2012 study showed there were 937 vehicles an hour using the Annacis Island off-ramp, while a similar study this year showed it had climbed to 1,046 an hour.
While many of that is legitimate traffic, much of it is not.
The Corporation of Delta is moving to put an end to the practice of using a shortcut to jump the queue of traffic – often referred to as rat running.
Delta council has approved $130,000 in extra funding for police to stop drivers from taking such shortcuts. Enforcement has already begun and tickets are being handed out.
A three-day enforcement campaign between Feb. 15 and 17 this month saw Delta Police issuing $7,500 in tickets for illegal turns.
Those violating traffic restrictions face a $121 fine, along with two points against their vehicle insurance.
Life has a way of handing out karma points as well, noted Acting Delta Police Sgt. Sarah Swallow.
She said using the shortcut results in heated anger from other drivers.
So, Delta Police plan to put an end to it.
“From 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. for the foreseeable future if you are taking the Annacis Island (to get around bridge traffic), the chances you will get a ticket have just gone through the roof,” Swallow warned.
The Corporation of Delta is also lobbying the provincial government for “smart gates” that would only let permitted traffic onto Annacis Island during the rush hour.