Municipal officials in Delta have made a public plea to the provincial government to build a pedestrian overpass across Highway 17 near 52 Street as a safety measure.
The intersection at Highway 17 and 52 Street was recently widened as part of the developer-funded expansion of the highway to accommodate the expected rise in traffic from the opening of Tsawwassen Mills.
Pedestrians currently need to cross Highway 17 by using a 40-metre-long crosswalk that crosses through seven lanes of 80 km/hr traffic and two additional turning lanes after the pedestrian refuge islands.
Video footage of the intersection captured by the municipality shows the islands overcrowded with pedestrians at peak times, vehicles blocking sidewalks, and pedestrians crossing the street in an unsafe manner. In one instance, a pedestrian could even be seen crossing the intersection diagonally.
“Not only does the present crossing arrangement cause significant safety concerns, it also impacts accessibility for people in the community and will limit the effectiveness of the intersection for vehicle traffic,” reads a staff report submitted to Delta City Council.
“An overpass will provide safer access to bus stops on Highway 17 and for employees of the malls walking or cycling from the nearby Tsawwassen community. The lack of an overpass at this location acts as a deterrent for pedestrians, cyclists, and other forms of active transportation.”
A previous study by the provincial government on an overpass for the area estimates the construction costs to be between $4.5 million and $5.2 million.
This section of the highway sees traffic from not just Tsawwassen Mills but also BC Ferries’ Tsawwassen terminal, and it is expected that traffic will only increase with the completion of the Tsawwassen First Nation’s residential developments, industrial projects, and the Tsawwassen Commons shopping centre adjacent to the recently opened regional shopping centre.
Tsawwassen Mills saw 284,000 shoppers during its six-day opening leading to Thanksgiving Monday earlier this month.