Questions By Members, 12 June 2015
Source: Legislative Assembly of PEI

Safety in new highway construction

Dr. Bevan-Baker: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

During the construction of a now infamous road in my district a few years ago there was one recurring justification offered for its construction: safety. It was all about safety.

A question to the Minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy. Putting aside the questionable voracity of those previous claims, can the minister confirm that safety is still a high priority in all new highway construction on Prince Edward Island?

Speaker: The hon. Minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy.

Ms. Biggar: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. LaVie: Up my way it’s not.

Ms. Biggar: First and foremost, when we do any planning for any road construction, the result of going forward with construction is to make our Island roads safer.

Speaker: The hon. Leader of the Third Party for his first supplementary question.

Safety in Tryon highway project

Dr. Bevan-Baker: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I’m glad to hear that.

Phase two of another highway project is currently underway in Tryon. The initial phase of this project was completed last year after several alterations to original plans, and indeed Helen Green, the owner of a daycare facility in the area who is with us today, only purchased that facility based on seeing plans which would have had the road routed many hundreds of yards from the front door of the facility.

The project straightens out two sections of the road, certainly improving sight lines, but also increasing speed of traffic right in front of this popular daycare where 45 children use it on a regular basis.

Despite emphatic and repeated warnings from parents that this would create a more dangerous situation – warnings that I have to say I completely agree with having seen the situation myself first hand – phase one of this project was completed without reference to their concerns.

Is the minister aware of these concerns and the very reasonable cost-effective solution that these parents have brought forward to the minister?

Mr. LaVie: Shove it through.

An Hon. Member: (Indistinct) Plan B.

Speaker: The hon. Minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy.

Ms. Biggar: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

To update the hon. member and anyone else who may have some concerns around that, over the last – during the construction, what happened was there were increased sight lines as a part of that construction. That particular business has been there around 10 years, I believe. We have data on that area. There have been no accidents in that area over that period of time.

Subsequent to concerns raised with parents – certainly there have been a number of meetings that were held with the owners of that facility. Subsequent to that there have been two flashing lights installed at that driveway entrance that will be there, and they are functioning now, to alert traffic to the busses turning in there.

There has been an offer to put a guardrail there and ongoing discussions have taken place. There are other options there to purchase land there. To do other work that was requested would be a half a million dollars and – but there – we’re always open to having discussion, as I said.

The staff have met numerous times and we’ve done those remediation safety installations. As yet we have not installed the guardrail because that is not something at this time, I don’t believe, that the owner has accepted but we’re certainly willing to do that as well.

I think there was a request for a left-turning lane and there is no provision to install left-turning lanes off of main highways into private businesses.

Speaker: The hon. Leader of the Third Party for his second supplementary.

Dr. Bevan-Baker: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

While I am aware of the remediations that have been provided to date by the minister, none of these is satisfactory as far as the parents of these 45 children who turn off a busy highway every day dropping their children off at this daycare facility. I think it is incumbent on the department to anticipate problems rather than look back at the number of accidents that may have happened in the area in the past. It’s clearly a very dangerous situation.

While phase two of this project is being completed, as it is now, and the resources and expertise are present in the area, will the minister commit to consulting with these concerned Islanders once more, properly, and to carry out the small – and I have to disagree with the figure of half a million dollars that was put forward, I have a much lower figure that was presented to me – but will she commit to carrying out this small but critical change in the plans which would greatly improve safety for our children in this area?

Speaker: The hon. Minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy.

Ms. Biggar: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Hon. member, I know our staff will always be available to meet at any time to discuss any further issues that may come up as a result of any construction in that area.

Mr. LaVie: Do you work on weekends?

 

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