Salmon Arm residents are urging improvements to the intersection of Third Street and Fifth Avenue SW before someone loses their life.
Nearby resident David Harding pointed out that his friend Ken Derkach was struck and injured by a vehicle in a hit-and-run as he crossed Fifth Avenue SW with his walker about six weeks ago. Harding said as the number of people using the intersection grows, and drivers continue to speed along Fifth where the intersection is not highly visible, the risk climbs.
Three affordable housing buildings have gone up near the intersection in the past year, joining another four or so apartment/condo complexes in the area. Families and seniors who live nearby cross Fifth Avenue, as do the people who come from the other side of the road to take their dogs to the fairgrounds.
Harding, who has started a petition to the City of Salmon Arm for improvements, and nearby residents Daryl Dube, Jennifer Wright and Derkach spoke to the Observer about their concerns and suggestions.
“It knocked me over big-time,” said Derkach, regarding the vehicle that hit him in the crosswalk about 6 p.m. Dec. 30, 2021 when it was already dark. “It actually broke my forearm.”
He said the man who was driving stopped but then drove away.
“I think he was drinking and driving because he stopped to say sorry and then he left, because he didn’t want to meet the RCMP.”
Emergency crews responded and Derkach said police checked nearby surveillance cameras, but they weren’t able to get a licence plate number.
“When I close my eyes to go to sleep, it runs through my mind,” he said with tears welling.
“I think what’s going to happen – one time a kid’s going to get hit and killed, and then the whole thing will start. I’d rather do something before someone gets killed,” Wright remarked.
Harding and Dube walked over to the intersection to point out the problems. They identified several possible improvements including reducing the speed limit to 30 km/hr on that stretch, installing crosswalk lights or flashing lights, improving street lighting, creating a four-way stop, adding speed humps and increasing RCMP patrols.
The painted crosswalk across Fifth Avenue is at the east side of the intersection, nearest Shuswap Street. Where it reaches the other side “it’s a crosswalk to nowhere,” they said, particularly for someone with a walker or a wheelchair. On this day, Feb. 11, mounds of snow and ice piled in the pull-out next to fields there lapped up against the Fifth Avenue sidewalk.
Harding recommended the painted crosswalk be relocated to the west side of the intersection, nearest the fall fairgrounds, where someone crossing Fifth would meet the Third Street sidewalk as it goes in front of the shelter.
All four residents pointed out they have either witnessed or been involved in numerous near misses, and they regularly watch drivers speed down Fifth Avenue SW without stopping for pedestrians.
“I’ve seen drivers fly down here. People are flying here, up and down,” Dube said.
Rob Niewenhuizen, the city’s engineering and public works director, said the intersection has been discussed at the city’s traffic safety committee on several occasions.
In order for a four-way stop to be approved, the site must meet the requirements of what’s called a ‘warrant analysis.’ Niewenhuizen said city staff will do a traffic count there in the spring to verify if a four-way stop is warranted.
“If the intersection does not meet the criteria for a 4-way stop, staff will look at creating ‘bump outs’ in the curb which narrows the road at the crosswalk location to provide traffic calming, reducing traffic speed and also the distance that pedestrians have to cross.”
Such work would be subject to budget approval.
In the meantime, Niewenhuizen said, the location has the appropriate crosswalk signage, crosswalk line painting as well as newly installed LED street lighting along Fifth and Third.
He noted it’s the responsibility of motorists to drive at the appropriate speed and be aware of intersections and pedestrians.
and subscribe to our daily newsletter.