Fort St. John will see an extra $885,000 in gas tax revenues this year, some of which city staff recommend be spent on two intersection upgrades along 100 Avenue.
The extra money is a one-time payment from the provincial Community Works Fund, which allocates federal gas tax dollars to municipalities in B.C. City staff are looking for council approval to spend $500,000 of the extra funds to add traffic signals at 98 Street and 100 Avenue, and upgrade the signals at 102 Street.
The improvements are needed ahead of 100 Street reconstruction, set to begin in phases in 2020, according to city staff.
Adding traffic signals at 98 Street was a key priority during consultations on the 100 Street upgrades, and is one of the first actions that needs to happen before the road is dug up and traffic is rerouted through downtown.
The intersection at 98 Street "has been an under utilized intersection as it is hard to go straight across or turn left," Victor Shopland, general manager of integrated services, writes in a report to council.
"The signalization of this intersection will allow for more efficient movements around the construction work that will be phased along 100 Street for the next four years."
According to ICBC statistics, the 98 Street intersection has seen 35 crashes since between 2013 and 2017, with 10 of those causing injury or death.
Meanwhile, the city is also looking to reconfigure the signals at 102 Street and 100 Avenue to add a left turn. There are often times where motorists waiting to turn left onto 100 Avenue from 102 Street causes traffic to back up to the next intersection at 99 and 101 avenues, Shopland said.
"With more traffic being directed along 102 St this would only be exacerbated. The addition of left turn lanes will rectify this problem," Shopland wrote.
The upgrades are expected to chew up some parking spaces on both streets, Shopland noted, but added that traffic movements are expected to be significantly improved overall.
Council will consider the request at Monday's council meeting.
The city is receiving a total of $1.3 million in gas tax funds this year. If the intersection upgrades are approved, remaining funds would go into reserves for the 2020 capital budget.
The city has spent gas tax monies on trails, sidewalks, street lights, garbage and recycling carts, and the new dog park, Shopland noted in his report.
Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at email@example.com.