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Deputy chief wants dangerous light changed

Firefighters respond to last Thursday’s crash near Valleyview Centre. - Andrew Leong/file
Firefighters respond to last Thursday’s crash near Valleyview Centre.
— image credit: Andrew Leong/file

Change the Cobble Hill Road-Island Highway traffic light to a controlled southbound left turn — from the current advanced left — before more folks are maimed, or killed.

That’s what Cowichan Bay’s deputy fire chief wants.

“Driver error seems to be the common denominator, but sequencing of the light is a contributing factor,” Cam Ferguson said.

Ferguson — fresh from the Valleyview’s recent wreck that injured four locals — has asked MLA Bill Routley to get highways to change the light.

“You’ll never avoid all the driver errors,” said Ferguson, “but I personally believe if you eliminate the option of turning left against the traffic, you’ll reduce the number of crashes.

“That’s a bad intersection because the (approach and turning) distances are greater than other intersections, and it’s easy to be wrong.”

He wants the light switched to a controlled left, such as the one at Koksilah Road and the highway.

At Koksilah, you get a flashing green, then it turns red. But Valleyview’s advanced green remains risky, explained the 18-year local fireman.

“You can turn left after cross traffic stops on a blinking green arrow.

“When the arrow stops blinking, the light for north- and southbound traffic starts, but people are still able to turn left when it’s safe to do so.”

That turn onto Cobble Hill Road could have been deadly for three females during recent crashes at the intersection where rural roads straddle the Trans-Canada Highway, he explained.

Ferguson said road design is an issue. Northbound traffic headed downhill passes through a slight curve before approaching the light.

“This causes problems for northbound drivers, and southbound left turns.”

Northbound drivers can’t clearly see the intersection “and on a couple of occasions drivers have cited sun in their line of sight.”

“For southbound traffic, the speed and distance of northbound traffic is very difficult to judge because of the road design.

“The reason we’re not seeing a higher number of fatalities,” he said, “is new car designs and safety features are saving lives but people still come out with bad injuries and longer recovery times.”

“I’ve spoken to lots of people who recognize this (advance light) is a problem. “Contact the local MLA (250-715-0127) — political pressure is one the best tools we have to try and get results.”

Shawnigan Lake RCMP Sgt. Rob Webb, has also approached B.C.’s transport ministry about fixing the dangerous light near Valleyview Mall, he said.

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