It does not take more than 10 minutes observing the intersection of Frizzi and Soda Creek Roads in Williams Lake to realize why Neil Mason would like to see stop signs replace the existing yield signs posted on Soda Creek Road.
“I use that intersection a lot and it’s terrible,” Mason told the Tribune. “I travel through this area for work quite often and I use the transfer station regularly to deal with recyclables generated by my work.”
Mason works at West Fraser as a computer technician. On Tuesday he was travelling through the intersection and noticed a vehicle that was attempting to exit off Frizzi onto Soda Creek Road.
It was parked in the road until all the traffic stopped at the yield signs.
“Obviously that person was not confident that people were going to stop at the yield signs,” Mason explained. “They waited until everyone stopped and then they proceeded. The people with the right-of-way aren’t using that because they’re afraid to.”
In May Mason wrote a letter asking the city to install stop signs or intersection lighting.
Since the yield signs were installed at the intersection he has experienced several near collisions that have only been avoided because he has been very alert to what other drivers are doing.
“I have repeatedly seen incidences there. In my letter I described a couple that were the last straw for me. When a chip truck just about broadsided me I was pretty ticked off,” he recalled.
Mason actually followed the truck, got the license plate number, phoned the trucking company, considered phoning the RCMP, but decided he didn’t want to “make a federal case” out of it.
The next time, when drivers were blatantly ignoring Mason’s right of way, he decided he had to write a letter.
Last week city council received Mason’s letter and decided to request staff to consult with the sawmills, log truckers association and CN Rail on the issue and then to install the needed stop signs .
In a report to council, director of municipal services Kevin Goldfuss noted during a recent study of traffic control in the city, McElhanney Consulting Services Ltd. identified the intersection has a high priority.
The report stated the Soda Creek Road approach to the Frizzi Road connector has yield signs with tabs requiring drivers to yield to outbound rail crossing and thru traffic. It noted the message may not be clear enough for driver compliance and could be exacerbated by the heavy industrial traffic and the obscured intersection site lines.
A stop sign on each approach could be installed instead, as currently exists on Frizzi Road. These could be supplemented by WA-19 signs on Soda Creek (and Frizzi) to indicate the railway crossing on the connector, the report suggested.
“It’s interesting because when they first put in that new signage I thought I understood it quite well, but then it didn’t seem to be working the way I thought it should work,” Mason said. “I was confused because no one was following the signs.”
The problem is people don’t understand what to do and it’s played out over and over again, Mason added.
“Not every time you go through there, but often enough that it’s a real problem.”
Coun. Surinderpal Rathor said historically the right of way was given to people crossing the railway, however, there are two stop signs on Frizzi Road before the railway that people aren’t using either.
“If we put in more stop signs my concern is in the winter people coming, especially with loaded trucks, will have a hard time stopping there. My advice would be to do some due diligence, and smarten up the people that are going through there. I’d rather do that than put in stop signs,” Rathor said.
Coun. Walters and Mayor Kerry Cook said they were comfortable as long as there is consultation with sawmills, the Log Truckers Association and CN Rail.