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Railroad crossing lights go haywire during Friday rush-hour downtown

RCMP officers direct traffic at Trunk Road, Canada Avenue and Duncan Street Friday at suppertime after rail and traffic lights crashed, for unknown reasons. - Peter W. Rusland
RCMP officers direct traffic at Trunk Road, Canada Avenue and Duncan Street Friday at suppertime after rail and traffic lights crashed, for unknown reasons.
— image credit: Peter W. Rusland

Friday's gridlock in downtown Duncan was caused by tripping of rail-crossing lights that affected traffic signals just before 5 p.m., officials said.

The signal snafu snarled crossings at Trunk Road and Canada Avenue, Boys Road and the Island Highway — and perhaps elsewhere — after the rail signal was tripped.

"When the signal gets tripped, it goes into preemptive activation of our traffic lights, and that sends them into flashing red," said city works boss Abbas Farahbakhsh.

What tripped the track system was unknown.

But Island Corridor Foundation's Graham Bruce checked with operator Southern Rail, and said the situation was "nothing unusual."

"Our systems are set for failsafe. Everything worked as it was meant to," he said, noting crews reset the system quickly.

Not before concern by Councillor Sharon Jackson.

"Train lights were flashing and the signal lights couldn't change, and traffic was piling up into town," Jackson said of the scene managed by Mounties on either side of the crossing near Duncan's cenotaph park.

No accidents were reported during the incident.

Meanwhile, the city will soon start recalibrating the timing of the lights at Trunk, Canada and Duncan streets to better handle traffic.

"We've arranged as much of the work as possible to be done in the evening so it won't impact daytime traffic," Jackson said.

 

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