June 03, 2015 - 6:27 PM
PENTICTON - It’s a big improvement, but it’s not complete.
Those thoughts appear to be on the minds of many residents and employees working in the vicinity of Industrial Avenue and Atkinson Street this week, just days after an extensive reconstruction of Industrial Avenue was completed.
A pedestrian crossing the intersection this afternoon, June 3, who prefers to remain anonymous, says the intersection is 'stupid.'
“Handicapped people have to leave the sidewalk to access the traffic lights button,” she says, “and why would they spend all that money to leave those poles in the street?”
Reconstruction of the intersection was completed just last week, and two power poles are now part of the roadway because Fortis B.C. was not prepared to move them. According to the city they could be there for another five to 10 years.
Jeremy Smith is manager of Creative Mobility, a company specializing in mobility equipment such as scooters and motorized wheelchairs. The business is located at 78 Industrial Ave., just east of the intersection. Smith says he hasn’t heard any complaints from his clients yet, but notes the project has just been completed.
Penticton resident Denis LaBerge says the power poles were an issue even before the street upgrade.
“I saw a guy with a camper lose his mirror after striking one of the poles, even before the curb was installed,” he says, adding he has seen many near misses at the intersection. “Those poles obstruct a driver’s view as well. The day will come for a major accident there."
LaBerge says he was told by a construction worker Fortis B.C. was asking $100,000 from the city to relocate the poles.
Just west of Atkinson, at 180 Industrial Ave. is the Penticton and District Society for Community Living, a not-for-profit charity dedicated to supporting people with diverse abilities. Many of the society’s clients attend the facility on a daily basis and suffer from handicaps, including mobility issues.
Support worker Mandy Kelly says she uses the intersection frequently with a handicapped client.
“It’s not a very good setup,” she says of the reconstructed road, noting wheelchair users have a difficult time using the crosswalk and accessing the traffic light buttons. “The buttons are too far off the sidewalk.”
Kelly notes the recent paving has greatly improved access off and on the street itself though, eliminating a lip that often caused problems prior to the reconstruction.
Community Living program coordinator Rena Boyda says she thought Fortis B.C. would have removed the poles.
“I would have thought, after spending all this money, they would have done a better job updating things. They did add some length to the sidewalk to take it around the corner to the bus stop, and I really appreciated that,” she says. “It’s a great upgrade, but they didn’t finish the job.”
Fortis B.C. media spokesperson Michael Allison says the poles have been at the intersection since 1965 and 1972. He says Fortis' mandate reqires it to share costs for upgrades with its customers.
"In this case, the city was modifying the street and requested the poles be moved. However, it's not as simple as moving just one pole," Allison says, citing such things as safety and engineering.
The relocation would also involve possibly having to locate on private property or purchasing of property to place them.
"The decision was made to leave the poles in place," he says, declining to say what the estimated cost of relocation was.
He could not say when Fortis' regular maintenance schedules would see the poles replaced either.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015