ELECTION 2014: More roundabouts coming round the bend

Municipality of North Cowichan: three more on the books for the coming months and years

This will continue to be a familiar sign for North Cowichan drivers as the municipality plans to build steadily on its catalogue of roundabouts.

A cycle of roundabout building in North Cowichan will continue in coming years, with three more of the traffic-moving, speed calmers planned, engineering manager John MacKay explained.

Chemainus Road at River Road will receive a roundabout, budgeted at $540,000, now expected next year. The project will involve moving some telephone poles.

Mural Town will also get a traffic oval on Victoria Street and Chemainus Road, at the theatre, within the next five years.

A roundabout is also targeted for Duncan’s James and Festubert streets, near the Cowichan Aquatic Centre.

“That’s in our University Village plan,” MacKay said of the James-Festubert circle.

“Lots of these projects come from transportation plans and studies.”

During the past five years, North Cowichan has built $2,031,641 worth of roundabouts at a cost of $75,753 to the local taxpayer. Each has been subsidized by ICBC.

“They do a calculation for each project. We get funding for roundabouts and some road improvements,” he said, citing cycling lanes installed on Beverly Street.

“There’s also safety improvements for sidewalks or bike lanes. We apply for ICBC funding where it’s related to pedestrian safety.”

Federal gas-tax funds received by council augment costs too.

“We apply development-cost charges for these projects because we collect money from developers.

“We’re doing roundabouts because they’re safety improvements,” MacKay said, citing a bale of roundabouts built in recent years, including a $450,000 circle at Lane and Drinkwater roads.

“Before these roundabouts, there were serious accidents at those intersections.

“Now we have the odd fender bender, but you don’t get T-bone accidents, which can be killers; traffic flows smoothly through them, for the most part.”

Lower speeds and smoother flows are good for the environment too, he explained.

“Each (roundabout) reduces our green-house gases compared to traffic signals, where someone will be idling — but at roundabouts, very seldom are you stopped,” MacKay said of the landscaped circles where drivers must yield to all vehicles approaching from the left.

Other roundabouts built recently include: a $381,000 one at Chemainus, Victoria and Oak streets; a $502,000, sloped circle on Kingsview Road at Donnay Drive, approaching The Properties; a $370,000 project at Gibbins Road and Cowichan Lake Road (bottom of hospital hill); a $407,000 unit at Drinkwater and Somenos roads; at a $370,000 oval at York at Beverly streets.

From North Cowichan public works

Work for gravel road upgrades on Maple Bay Peninsula’s Stoney Hill Road closes for tender this month, North Cowichan’s engineering manager, John MacKay, said.

Demolition of Chemainus’ firehall, to make way for Mural Town’s new library, will happen in 2015. Library designs are still pending.

Tenders to build Chemainus’ new skatepark, on the former Chemainus elementary school site, go out next month. School debris contains asbestos that will head to special landfills taking hazardous materials.

Chemainus Museum and washrooms in Waterwheel Park will be closed for about another week while the old sidewalk is lowered a couple of inches to fit with the rest of the ground level, Mural Town’s chamber of commerce staff say.

“We have been answering questions about where the washrooms are and providing maps to the washrooms on Chemainus Road since last Thursday,” one staffer said. “There are also maps on the construction fencing, and one on the visitor centre door.”

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