I read the recent article about the proposed new pedestrian and bicycle footbridge over the Puntledge River. As an avid cyclist, I support this proposal. However, I also know this does nothing to alleviate the growing vehicle traffic congestion on the Fifth Street and 17th Street bridges. I’m not a city planner, and I do not intend to wade into the debate about bridges, however, I have another suggestion.
I propose that the city widens 17th Street into the parking lot of the Rexall Drug store. The 17th Street bridge itself could remain the current four lanes, but if the road was widened on the Courtenay side immediately after the bridge, traffic turning right onto Cliff would have a dedicated turn lane. This would also make one dedicated left-turn lane, and one dedicated straight-through lane at that intersection. Many people are already turning right into the Rexall parking lot, going over the two speed bumps, and then merging back onto Cliff avenue by the lights by Thrifty’s. With this small, relatively straightforward project, the backup of traffic would be dramatically reduced for vehicles driving into Courtenay from the Comox side of the river. I know this does nothing for the flow of traffic heading the other direction, but it would make a huge difference for at least one side.