(L to R) Carol Reid

(L to R) Carol Reid

(With video) Fixing a ‘dangerous’ and ‘frightening’ crosswalk in Abbotsford

Report recommends upgrades to South Fraser Way and Pauline Street crossing as part of upgrades to 20 Abbotsford crosswalks

Most of the people who work at RDM Lawyers in Abbotsford have stories about how scary the nearby crosswalk at South Fraser Way and Pauline Street can get.

But that could soon change if council approves a recommendation to upgrade 20 crosswalks across the city.

The crossing at South Fraser Way and Pauline is marked with painted stripes on the road and side-mounted signs at the curb but it doesn’t seem to be enough for some drivers, who blast through the intersection when people are trying to cross.

Some staffers have come back visibly shaken from near-misses, and some won’t cross by themselves anymore.

“It’s dangerous and it has been for years and years and years,” says Carol Reid.

One time, Reid was halfway across the road when drivers started going through the intersection in both directions.

“I literally smacked on the hood of a car with my umbrella,” Reid says. “I got the finger from the driver.”

Char Rowse witnessed an elderly woman in a walker being forced to retreat back onto the curb because drivers wouldn’t slow down.

“No one would let her go,” Rowse says. “It was devastating to see. Unbelievable.”

Breanna Takasaki once came within inches of being hit by a truck driver who simply refused to stop.

“It was very scary,” Takasaki says.

Michele Lavery remembers having to grab an associate by their jacket to keep them from getting seriously hurt.

“When it’s busy and traffic is coming, it’s a frightening crosswalk,” Lavery says.

Lavery presented a 147-name petition on behalf of RDM Lawyers and other area businesses to the Abbotsford Transportation Advisory Committee on Monday.

The written presentation said the near-misses at South Fraser Way and Pauline Street have become “rampant and frightening.”

Immediately after the presentation, at the very same meeting, the committee endorsed a staff report that calls for upgrades to 20 crosswalks in Abbotsford over the next few years.

One of the crosswalks happens to be South Fraser Way and Pauline Street, which is on a list of 12 “priority one” upgrades to be installed in 2016 and 2017.

“That was great news,” Lavery says.

The other crosswalks on the priority one upgrade list are: McCallum Road at Switzer Avenue, Ware Street at Farrant Crescent, Trethewey Street at Slocan Drive, Bevan Avenue at Primrose Street, Clearbrook Road at Newcastle Court, South Fraser Way at James Street in front of city hall, Blueridge Drive at Summit Drive, Ash Street at Green Avenue, Blueridge Drive at Goldfinch Street, Huntington Road at Gladwin Road, and Downes Road at MEI Elementary School.

The Trethewey Street and Slocan Drive intersection has been the subject of safety concerns for over a decade.

Last November, a 74-year-old man suffered serious injuries after being hit by a northbound vehicle in the intersection.

At the time, city engineers were assigned to examine the safety of the crosswalk, which had white lines painted on the pavement but no warning lights for drivers.

“Priority two” crosswalk upgrades would be installed in 2017 and 2018.

The report said the city can pay for the upgrades with $545,000 in savings from the 2016 pavement resurfacing budget and $185,000 from the 2017 pavement resurfacing budget.

After a consultants’ report found Abbotsford roads were in better-than-expected condition, council voted to trim the annual paving budget by $1 million, reducing the major road-paving budget from $3 million to $2.5 million and trimming the minor road-paving budget from $2 million to $1.5 million.

That would be enough to maintain roads at their current condition and use the money for other transportation-related purposes, the report said.

Mayor Henry Braun was pleased with the savings, saying “if there is good reason not to spend something in the budget … I certainly have no difficulty ratcheting back.”

Coun. Les Barkman, the chair of the transportation advisory committee, was the lone vote against the idea when it came to council.

Barkman said while paving is always a tempting target for municipal budget cutting, the city needs to be careful that it doesn’t go too far and end up spending extra on repairs to neglected roads.