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Highway upgrades planned for September

$2.5 million in Highway 101 upgrades in the Davis Bay area are slated to start mid-September and end by early spring of 2011.

$2.5 million in Highway 101 upgrades in the Davis Bay area are slated to start mid-September and end by early spring of 2011.

The upgrades are intended to improve safety at intersections where the accident rate is well above the provincial average, according to project manager Jay Porter of the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.

According to Ministry information, the upgrades will widen the highway at Davis Bay Road, which will improve the sight line by 25 per cent for left turners coming onto the highway.

As well, a new left-turn area is planned for that intersection to allow eastbound travellers to make left turns without impeding traffic.

Furthermore, the upgrades will pre-duct the intersection to prepare for installing traffic lights in the future.

To address accidents caused by left turns in and out of Whitaker Road, the upgrades will widen the highway, re-align the road somewhat and construct a concrete island.

The project looks to close Westly Road - which has the highest collision severity rate along that strip - with concrete planters. The closure will create a new bus bay at the intersection with the highway, which the Ministry says will improve pedestrian visibility at the crosswalk.

If the project budget allows, the Ministry will co-ordinate with the District of Sechelt to look at shoulder widening north of Davis Bay Road to address pedestrian and cyclist safety problems.

The Ministry hosted an open house Wednesday, June 16, to update the public on the upgrades and project timeframes.

"Now we're going back and trying to implement or re-look at certain things that came out of that [open house]," Porter said, though he stated he doesn't anticipate any notable changes to the design based on public feedback.

Porter said he's hoping the upgrades can begin as summer wraps up on the Coast.

"I'm hoping to have it start by the middle of September, so the tourist season should be pretty much over or a lot less, so it shouldn't impact as much traffic as it would in the summer," he said.

Porter said the upgrades will be complete by March 31, 2011 at the latest, but he's optimistic they'll be done well before.

"I give that deadline because you just never know what might happen, depending on weather and that sort of thing," he said. "But the idea is I would like the intersections to be completed by the fall."

The upgrades are being jointly funded by the provincial and federal governments through the Infrastructure Stimulus Fund.