There’s stop-and-go traffic at the Ironworkers bridgehead but, for once, that’s by design.
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure switched on the new traffic signal at the combined Dollarton Highway/Main Street eastbound on-ramp Tuesday.
Commuters, especially those headed for the Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows Crossing from the Main Street and Dollarton/Deep Cove areas, have reported even longer waits than usual to get on the bridge, but the system is still not fully online, said project manager Jay Porter.
The signal is designed to have sensors to detect how long the back-ups are for each input and then give green or red lights accordingly.
“The signals were in an interim phase,” Porter said Thursday afternoon. “We have to complete a little bit more construction on the ramps in order to get the sensors hooked up and those lights adjusting to whatever the traffic conditions are. … That's why there are some backups.”
The hope is to have the adaptive system online by Friday. Porter said he is confident getting on the bridge will be faster for all once that is done.
“Then the ramp signals will be more in sync and they'll adapt to wherever the heavier volumes are,” he said.
And the good news is, it appears combining the Dollarton and Main on-ramps is having the desired effect of cutting down on the eastbound back-ups on Highway 1.
“It's definitely improved in the a.m. and the p.m.,” Porter said. “That was one of the main objectives, absolutely, and to improve safety, which removing that [Dollarton] ramp certainly does.”
Drivers having to slow down to accommodate people trying to merge on Dollarton’s notoriously short on-ramp was the major culprit in highway traffic backing up to Lonsdale Avenue most afternoons, according to the ministry’s traffic modelling. That modelling also predicts a 50 per cent reduction in the time it takes to get from the top of the Cut to mid-span on the bridge, Porter added.
“That's a big part of why the municipal road network was backed up,” he said. “The highway is moving much better than it was before, then it's just a matter of time until we get the municipal traffic sorted out.”
The last bit of heavy construction to be done is the completion of a retaining wall near the Mount Seymour Parkway on-ramp to Highway 1 westbound. That should be done by early November, eliminating the need for the current detour there, Porter said
And the west sidewalk and bike lane on the Ironworkers should be fully paved and the safety barriers should be back up within a couple weeks, Porter added.
The entire system will be monitored closely over the coming weeks to see where adjustments need to be made, Porter said.
The $200-million Lower Lynn Improvement Project is funded by District of North Vancouver, the provincial government and the federal government.