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ICBC doles out cash to improve safety

New Westminster gets $100,000 for intersections

A little money goes a long way, as ICBC recently invested $130,000 into road improvement projects in Burnaby and New Westminster.

The Royal City got the bulk of that money, as $100,000 went into improvements at four different intersections.

In Burnaby, the improvements went into an intersection at Gilmore Avenue and Douglas Road, along with work at 10 different locations where the power supply will now be uninterrupted, even during a power outage.

In New Westminster, ICBC partnered with the City of New Westminster to improve left turn phasing at the intersection of Sixth Street and Eighth Avenue ($10,000); at the corner of Eighth Street and Eighth Avenue ($10,000); and Royal Avenue and Eighth Street ($60,000).

In addition, ICBC spent $20,000 to install a pedestrian signal at Royal Avenue and Seventh Street, again in a partnership with the City of New Westminster.

In Burnaby, ICBC partnered with the City of Burnaby to install a new centre median and crosswalks at Gilmore Avenue and Douglas Road ($5,000) and spent $25,000 to install an uninterrupted power supply at 10 locations.

According to Gord Couling, ICBC's regional road safety manager for Burnaby and Port Moody, ICBC traditionally pays a portion of the cost of the work and the city where the improvements are done pays the remainder. The amounts above are what ICBC paid for each project.

Doug Louie, assistant director of engineering for the City of Burnaby, said the city now has 36 intersections with uninterrupted power supply.

"We have had power failures and this definitely has come in handy," said Louie of the backup battery device that has been installed for the past two years.

Louie said uninterrupted power supply at major intersections minimizes traffic chaos. The city works with ICBC to determine which locations are the best value for the investment.

Louie and Couling said a recent installation at Kingsway and Edmonds is important because that is a busy intersection with multiple challenges.

Louie also said that making improvements to Douglas Road and Gilmore Avenue will make the crossing much more pedestrian-friendly.

"We identified that intersection as one that needed some work and we worked with ICBC to make it happen," said Louie.

ICBC launched the road improvement program in 1989, and since then, has invested more than $100 million in projects across the province.

In 2011, ICBC invested approximately $4 million in projects in the Lower Mainland and $6.5 million in 283 projects across the province.

The most recent evaluation of the program found that two years following a project's implementation, there is on average, a 20 per cent reduction in severe crashes and a 12 per cent reduction in property damage crashes.

The evaluation concluded that for every dollar invested in a project, ICBC and customers save $5.60 over two years and $12.80 over five years in reduced claims costs.

"The numbers speak for themselves," said Couling. "This is a phenomenal return on our investment and more importantly, it is making the roads safer for everybody."

While Burnaby only saw a small portion of the ICBC funds this year, the city has benefited from more than $5 million invested by ICBC into road improvement projects in the 22 years of the program.

"The funding is cyclical," said Couling. "We work with each city on what improvements have to be done each year and there was a greater need in other cities (than Burnaby)."

Karon Trenaman, ICBC regional road safety coordinator for New Westminster and Delta, said New Westminster's major concerns with left-turn phasing have been addressed.

In particular, the intersection of Royal and Eighth, which received the most funding this time, will make it easier for cars coming off of Stewardson Way to turn north from Royal Avenue toward Burnaby.

"New Westminster identified left turns along Royal Avenue as something they wanted addressed," said Trenaman. "This is a priority we worked with them to address."

Investing in road improvements, along with educating drivers through awareness campaigns and funding enhanced police enforcement, are all part of ICBC's commitment to help make B.C. roads safer.

All proposed road improvement projects are assessed based on their ability to make roads safer. ICBC works in partnership with municipalities and the provincial government on delivering road enhancements. ICBC also participates in engineering studies and assists communities with road safety issues in the planning of roadways and managing traffic.

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