Darrell Gunn, Joanne Monaghan and Nathan Voogd review plans for the advanced signage. Photo supplied

Advanced signage for Kitimat River Hill

Kitimat River Hill and Highway 37 statistically have had fewer accidents on average

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has announced plans to dramatically overhaul signage for the Kitimat River Hill along Highway 37 between Kitimat and Terrace.

The announcement was made last week by Skeena district manager for transportation, Darrell Gunn, following a meeting between him, ministry area manager for roads Nathan Voogd, and ex-Kitimat mayor Joanne Monaghan, on July 27.

The snaking section of highway, which descends towards the Kitimat River Bridge from the north, was the scene of a fatal accident in January this year, prompting calls by Monaghan for the ministry to look into improving the roadway.

Gunn said a full review of the hill by engineers from the ministry’s highway safety division and the highway design group earlier this year had been completed and recommendations made for the hill.

As part of the month-long survey, the engineers reviewed the history of incidents on the hill, studied LIDAR images to look at the physical geomatics, and then considered which improvements would be warranted to improve safety on the hill.

“What the engineers found was that with the grade and curvature of the hill, it would definitely benefit from installation of enhanced warning signs to help drivers adjust their driving appropriately for the hill, for road conditions and for the road ahead,” said Gunn.

“It is a steeper part of the corridor and has two back-to-back curves. By enhancing the signage it will make the dangers even more apparent to the driver so that they will adjust appropriately for their driving ability and their vehicle.”

He said the speed limits on the hill will remain the same, but that the advisory speed would change – the advisory speed is based on engineering standards and is a safe speed for motorists to navigate a particular section.

Gunn said even though the survey had established that the accident statistics for the hill were below average, the ministry had nevertheless decided to go ahead with improvements to the signage.

“What we found was that Kitimat River Hill and Highway 37 statistically have had fewer accidents on average compared to the provincial average for highways of the same classification. Statistically speaking, it is performing well,” said Gunn.

Statistics provided by the ministry list three fatalities on Kitimat River Hill since 1997, with a total of 14 fatalities on Highway 37 south for the same period.

“We don’t like any incidents at all, but as far as our provincial average goes, it is nothing out of the ordinary,” added Gunn. “That being said, we still take safety very seriously.”

He said of the 20 signs that will be installed along the roadway on Kitimat River Hill, some will replace existing signs while the rest will be new installations.

While the signs are being installed, work to extend the guard rail at the top of the hill towards Terrace will also be completed, work which had already been scheduled for 2017.

He said the signs, which will cost between $10,000 and $15,000, are still being produced and will be installed in September before the end of fall.

“These will be general warning signs, but they will be oversized and there will be additions made to really highlight the changes, including starburst speed advisory signs and oversized chevrons,” said Gunn.

He added that while there are no immediate plans for reconstruction on the hill, the ministry hasn’t ruled that out completely.

“We will continue to review different long-term improvement opportunities for the hill, to see whether there are any physical enhancements that could be made as part of future projects,” said Gunn. “There are no plans right now, but we are looking into it.”

Click to email the newsroom

Just Posted

BC Ferries restricts passengers from lower vehicle decks

The new regulations will no longer allow passengers to remain in their vehicles on closed car decks.

Chinooks fly in coast guard communications upgrades

The repeater sites will increase coverage along the north west coast

Talks lift hopes for new hospital

Mills Memorial replacement “on the radar” with new government: Nyce

VIDEO: ‘Lyle the singing pig’ searching for home

SPCA say the pig is ‘not opera-ready’

Man in custody linked police search near Salmon Arm

Police have not connected arrest to search at Salmon River Road property

B.C. search groups mobilize for missing mushroom picker

Searchers from across the province look for Frances Brown who has been missing since Oct. 14.

Search for missing B.C. man a race against winter weather

David Jeff of Williams Lake was last seen in Kamloops during the chaotic wildfire evacuations

Man steals police car, goes for a ‘slow’ ride

Mission RCMP say the motive of the theft is unknown

Dodgers punch ticket to World Series

This will be the first time the Los Angles Dodgers have made it to the World Series since 1988.

Surf group winning the war on plastic bags

The Tofino Co-op will no longer provide plastic bags, following in the footsteps of the Ucluelet location that already made the change earlier this year.

All three victims identified in Fernie arena ammonia leak

Wayne Hornquist and Lloyd Smith were from Fernie and Jason Podloski from Turner Valley, Alta

B.C. woman plagued by bedbugs on airplane not surprising, says expert

Heather Szilagyi was on a British Airways flight when she noticed bedbugs crawling out of the seat

Most Read