Province to repaint Portage Road crosswalks 

Move comes after advocacy by Village and parents

click to enlarge PHOTO BY JOEL BARDE - Crosswalk The province says the crosswalks along Portage Road will be repainted before school starts.
  • PHOTO by Joel Barde
  • Crosswalk The province says the crosswalks along Portage Road will be repainted before school starts.

A dangerous section of road in Pemberton is getting touched up after significant advocacy from Pemberton parents, Pemberton RCMP, and the Village of Pemberton.

"The ministry has arranged for the crosswalks on Portage Road to be refreshed at the contractor's first availability," reads a statement sent to Pique by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI).

"Work will be starting Sept. 15, and will include recessing the crosswalks to inlay thermoplastic paint, which will extend the life of the crosswalks."

Falling under the provincial highway system, Portage Road is a principal thoroughfare through the community, starting at the turn off of the Sea to Sky Highway and ending near the Community Barn, where it transitions into Birch Street.

Despite its importance—and the fact that it runs directly alongside Signal Hill Elementary School—the crosswalks that traverse it are next to impossible to see.

According to Pemberton resident Veronica Hampshire, all of the crosswalks "from the entrance at the lights to the grocery store in town are terrible."

Hampshire feels that Pemberton has the potential to be much more pedestrian friendly town.

"I walk and bike everywhere so for sure (I) notice it," said Hampshire in Facebook message to Pique. "I only cross at the blinking lights on Portage as it is the only place people will actually know to stop."

Pemberton resident Erica Hurtubise said in addition to being painted, the province should consider putting speed bumps in the school zone that runs alongside Signal Hill.

"I know in other regions, crosswalks are not just painted, but they are defined by speed bumps on either side of white lines," she said. "It seems that this area has been neglected and it is in desperate need of continued maintenance ... A forced speed reduction using speed bumps could be a solution."

Getting the province to address the crosswalk situation has been a priority of the Village in recent years.

Pemberton Mayor Mike Richman, though, said he is sympathetic to the many responsibilities of the MOTI.

"The ministry has a huge work plan it has to prioritize and organize, and there are many small and large towns like ours that have certain needs," he said.

"But from our side, in town, it's a little bit frustrating because it takes a long time sometimes to get it done, and it's obviously an important safety feature."

The road sees a ton of action, and Richman said that the lack of clear crosswalks poses a significant safety issue.

"It's a wide road, and we get lots of foggy and rainy nights here where we don't have great visibility," he said.

The area in front of Signal Hill is a school zone—which is only in effect during the school year—but also a playground zone, which applies all year round.

"That street picks up the community centre, the elementary school, the clinic—all of these major community amenities—so a 30 km/h (zone) is (very important) because there are so many kids there in the morning."

Richman said policing the zone has been a priority for Pemberton RCMP. "The RCMP do a really good job of policing that strip ... Our local RCMP head has made it a personal challenge to make that a safe area."

Going forward, he said he would like to see the province develop a clear schedule for when it will repaint the crosswalks. "It's not the first time we had to point out the fact that it's needed and get some action on it. It's happened in years past when it's worn down and we felt it was taking too long to get done. It'd be nice to see us on a more regular routine and work plan," he said.

In its statement to Pique, MOTI said that it did, in fact, paint the crosswalks as recently as October 2017, but winter snowplows and graders "tend to scrape the markings off the road surface."

Rather than being painted on the asphalt, this time around, the province will recess the crosswalks and inlay the paint, which it says will extend the life of them.

For Richman and others, that's welcome news. "It sounds like they're going to be doing a little bit more of a substantial fix on it this time," he said.


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