A plastic barrier was recently set up at the Blanshard Street exit from Saanich Plaza

A plastic barrier was recently set up at the Blanshard Street exit from Saanich Plaza

Pilot project aims to block dangerous shortcut

Concerns about safety on Blanshard Street prompted the province to install a line of plastic posts between Uptown and Saanich Plaza.

The temporary solution prevents cars from cutting across four lanes of the busy road.

“They’re called flexible delineators, and they’re a new product we’re testing as a preventative measure,” said Baljinder Jacques, spokesperson for the Ministry of Transportation.

The road is managed by the province, as it’s considered a part of the Pat Bay Highway. In January, Coun. Judy Brownoff asked council to forward a request to the provincial ministry, outlining concerns about the potentially dangerous short cut.

Sgt. Dean Jantzen with the Saanich police says there have been two accidents since Uptown opened as a result of vehicles crossing from one shopping centre to the other.

“Under our original development permit, we proposed to have a light put in there,” said Geoff Nagle with Morguard Investments, which operates Uptown. “Having a signal there would be the ultimate solution, from our perspective, as that becomes an urban street, rather than highway.”

Brownoff, who chairs the bicycle and pedestrian mobility awareness committee, says installing a vehicle barrier doesn’t solve the problem. If anything, she suspects, more people are going to try to run across the street to get from one centre to the other.

“People are not going to walk up to the corners (at Ravine Way or Saanich Road),” she said. “When that road was built, there was no consideration around pedestrians.”

One option, she says, is a pedestrian overpass. “We need a solution, if (MoT is) determined to give those cars the full four lanes and not stop them,” Brownoff said, adding her biggest concern is pedestrian safety. “There’ll probably have to be a different solution. It might mean losing a lane and changing the exits … but my (way of thinking) is: you’re already in our community, you need to slow down anyway.”

The delineators will remain in place until April 15, Jacques said, when the ministry will assess their success and see whether they should be used on a permanent basis.

kslavin@saanichnews.com