Whatcom/Mountain traffic light will wait

There won’t be a traffic light at the intersection of Whatcom Road and Mountain Drive – at least not yet.

There won’t be a traffic light at the intersection of Whatcom Road and Mountain Drive – at least not yet.

After a 45-minute debate Monday afternoon, council decided to take a wait-and-see approach on a request by residents for the new signal.

Instead, an amber flashing light will be installed on a sign, warning drivers coming down the hill on Whatcom that the intersection is approaching. No other safety upgrades will be done until the new shopping centre on Whatcom is completed in the fall of 2011. That will allow city staff to see how the complex will affect traffic.

The decision to wait was not a unanimous one.

Coun. Lynne Harris urged council to install a light, despite a staff report saying it wasn’t needed.

“I am not an expert … in my mind, signalization is required there,” said Harris.

Her motion received support from Couns. Patricia Ross, John Smith and Dave Loewen, however, the remaining five members voted to wait.

“We either respect the professional recommendation of our staff, or we ignore them,” said Coun. Simon Gibson. He said the report indicated a light, which would cost about $180,000 to install, could create rear-end collisions at the intersection.

“That’s a lot of money if we are going to increase the likelihood of accidents,” said Gibson.

Abbotsford Mayor George Peary agreed.

“You cannot conclude that just because an intersection is light controlled, that it is safer.”