Council to key on rail crossings, traffic patterns

Will be meeting with CN

Improvements to the Tweedie Ave. North rail crossing are being sought by the District of Houston council. (Angelqiue Houlihan photo)

CN Rail crossings and traffic patterns will be top of mind for District of Houston council members when they meet with CN later this month at the annual Union of BC Municipalities convention in Vancouver.

Improvements to the flow of vehicle traffic at North Nadina Ave. crossing the CN Rail line and Hwy16, the traffic pattern at Tweedie Ave. North and improvements to the Benson Ave. crossing are on the list.

“Several years ago, North Nadina Ave. was a two-way intersection crossing over the CN Rail mainline and Hwy16. This intersection is a key access point into the industrial site,” explained District of Houston chief administrative officer Gerald Pinchbeck.

“However, the crossing was converted into an entrance-only intersection, permitting only northbound traffic to access the industrial site, and blocking southbound traffic from exiting.”

The conversion created a major traffic barrier for the District’s public works crew and businesses on North Nadina as outbound traffic has to exit out through Tweedie Ave. North, Pinchbeck continued.

And the change created a bottleneck at Tweedie Ave. North as that became the exit through which all industrial traffic must travel.

“Our Master Transportation Plan commissioned in 2014 identified this as a major area of concern, and recommended reopening the crossing to two-way traffic,” said Pinchbeck.

As for Tweedie itself and its Hwy16 intersection, council has long been lobbying the provincial transportation ministry for improvements to upgrade the exit from the eastbound lanes onto Tweedie to include a dedicated off-ramp, without restricting eastbound traffic continuing on Highway 16, and installing a meridian between the eastbound lane and the southbound exit on Highway 16 West, said Pinchbeck.

Council further envisions upgrading the exit from the southbound lanes onto Highway 16 West, Tweedie Avenue North, and Highway 16 East to include dedicated lanes for each intersection.

“Vehicles exiting onto Tweedie Avenue North and Highway 16 East from Tweedie Avenue currently share the same lane, creating a fairly significant bottleneck on the only access route across Buck Creek and connecting the east and west sides of town,” Pinchbeck noted.

Safety improvements are key to work council wants done at the Benson Ave. rail crossing, based on a study the District commissioned.

“In order to meet [new] requirements, the crossing will need to be upgraded from the current active warning system of flashing lights and bells to a flashing lights, bells and gate system,” the study noted.

“The issue of trespassing must also be resolved by extending and installing new fences along with the installation of No Trespassing signs,” the study added.

People crossing tracks on foot come from the residential development to the north of the crossing and while a fence exists along the south edge of the tracks, there is no fence for the north side of the track.

“Moreover, the south side fence will require extension to prohibit and discourage trespassing,” the study continued.

And even though the current crossing does have flashing lights which are activated when a train passes, study authors concluded users of the northbound approach to the close by the heritage Anglican church parking lot may not be able to “adequately see the flashing lights”.

Fully implementing improvements could cost up to $610,000.

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