Ministry studying contentious Fruitvale crosswalk

The eye is on Fruitvale and the crosswalk near the Villagers Pub and Hotel, a problematic place for pedestrians.

The eye is on Fruitvale and the crosswalk near the Villagers Pub and Hotel, a problematic place for pedestrians.

As the scene for numerous near-misses in the past— the site of a hit-and-run Halloween night with near tragic consequences—the crosswalk at the crossing of Highway 3B at Nelson Avenue is now firmly under review by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.

Darrell Gunn, the district operations manager with the ministry for the West Kootenay District, informed the village that they have installed a special camera to help gather data regarding pedestrian use and vehicle traffic.

“(Cameras) are completed and we are waiting for data to be retrieved from the manufacturer,” he said in a letter to council.

The ministry was also performing other action items to determine a solution for the area, including an “illumination warrant analysis” to determine if enhanced lighting was appropriate.

Village of Fruitvale chief administrative officer Lila Cresswell felt the lighting was inappropriate.

“It’s very hard to see people with the snow and the dusk lighting, to see people standing on either side of the road,” she said.

“We just encourage people to be very cautious driving along there and to look for pedestrians.”

The ministry is also reviewing incident statistics for the area in order to analyze any trends associated with the crosswalk location this winter. A district engineer will be visiting Fruitvale to perform a site visit to review the physical aspects of the crosswalk and the highway in spring.

At a regular meeting in early November, council unanimously passed a motion to petition the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure for additional lighting and enhanced safety in the form of pedestrian activated flashing lights at the crosswalk.

Village of Fruitvale Mayor, Patricia Cecchini, said she was approached by a constituent who reported her nephew was struck by a passing vehicle Halloween night as he was crossing the highway at the crosswalk.

Cresswell said the village has a lengthy history of requesting action on the hazardous crossing.

“There was a petition in the 90’s to have something done to make this safer and then again the last village council brought up the issue,” she said.

“I brought it up with the ministry last year before they did the paving. We had positive response to other issues but they told us this was already signed appropriately.”

The ministry will bring its findings back to the village council and begin the discussion on what needs to be done in the area.

“But if an improvement is determined to be warranted prior to the completion of the investigation then the ministry will proceed as long as the weather and resources permit,” Gunn wrote in his letter.