Concerned parents shed light on “problem” intersection

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Concerned parents are sounding the alarm over a busy school-zone intersection in the Frame Lake-South area after reports of near-collisions between motorists and pedestrians.

Sharon Dywer, the mother of a kindergarten student at N.J. Macpherson School, said she’s worried about a nearby all-way stop after she and her four-year-old son narrowly avoided an oncoming truck during the pair’s morning walk to school earlier this month.

“I took my boy’s hand once I noticed he was coming toward us … and ran with him just to get out of the way,” said Dywer.

The intersection, which sees Range Lake Rd. cross paths with Finlayson Drive, is a main thoroughfare for vehicle and foot traffic, with a steady flow of parents driving and walking their children to class at N.J. Macpherson in the wee hours of the morning.

While upset about the incident, Dywer isn’t blaming the driver. Instead, she’s shedding light on what she believes led to the close call.

Inadequate lighting is being blamed for close calls between drivers and school-goers at the intersection between Range Lake Rd. and Finlayson Dr., pictured here. Now, parents are calling on added safety measures and action from the city. Brendan Burke/NNSL photo.

“I’m pretty sure he didn’t see us because of the streetlights … it’s pretty dark,” she said.
Even with four streetlights flanking the intersection, Dywer said the light that is cast does little to effectively illuminate the roadway during dark mornings in the winter months. She isn’t alone in thinking so.

Christina Socha said she and her son – another pupil at N.J. Macpherson – have almost been struck twice while crossing at the all-way stop. Dwyer also pointed to inadequate lighting as the root of the problem.
Socha noted in an online post some of the responsibility rests on parents, who should ensure their children wear reflective clothing when making the trek to school.

City Coun. Niels Konge told Yellowknifer he had not been made aware of the issues surrounding the all-way stop, but said all intersections should be safe and properly illuminated.

“As for the city taking action I would highly suggest the people who have these concerns bring them either to council or administration,” he said.

Director of Public Works and Engineering Dennis Kefalas said the process of implementing traffic lights involves the consideration of multiple factors, including traffic conditions and volumes, pedestrian characteristics, the physical makeup of the roadway in question and, of course, the associated costs.

For a traffic light to be approved, subsequent studies must demonstrate that an installation would improve road safety and traffic flow efficiency.

“In some cases,” Kefalas said, “the request comes from council to install traffic lights at a specific intersection.”

If traffic lights are OK’d within the budget for a specific year, installation then takes place during the summer of that year, he added.

But for concerned parents, like Dywer, the time to act is now.

“Hopefully something happens before someone gets hurt,” Dywer said.

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As the Yellowknifer’s crime reporter, it’s my job to keep readers up to speed on all-things “cops and courts” related. From house fires and homicides to courtroom clashes, it’s my responsibility to be there - day or night, rain or shine. When I’m not at court gathering stories, I’m in the office, making calls to lawyers, emailing RCMP and tracking down sources. After hours, I rely on the public to let me know what’s happening and where. Entering my second winter in Yellowknife since leaving my hometown of Peterborough, Ont., in October 2017, everyday on this beat continues to be challenging, rewarding and fulfilling. Got a story? Call me at (867) 766-8288 or shoot me an email at editorial@nnsl.com.

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