Gary Hee talks to Township Mayor Jack Froese Saturday morning at a residents’ petition drive for traffic safety improvements on 72 Avenue and 198B Street, the scene of several serious crashes including a recent pedestrian fatality.

Residents push for quick solution to 72 Avenue pedestrian challenges

Campaign for improvements ramps up after pedestrian death on Sept. 4.

Covering over the ditch on 72 Avenue near 198B Street with temporary steel plates would provide an immediate, low-cost interim safety solution, says Gary Hee, the organizer of a petition calling for traffic calming measures at the Langley intersection.

“This might cost $10,000,” Hee told The Times Saturday, as he collected signatures at the intersection.

Hee said Mayor Jack Froese was sympathetic, but made no commitments, when they spoke informally at the intersection that morning.

Hee was scheduled to meet with Township staff to discuss his proposal on Monday.

There have been a number of serious accidents in the area of 72 Avenue and 198B Street, where the road coming from the east narrows to two lanes, and a ditch on one side leaves pedestrians about a metre of space to walk on next to oncoming traffic, without a sidewalk or curb to separate them.

A recent collision claimed the life of an 83-year-old man on Thursday, Sept. 4. He was hit by a car.

Roger Bhullar, who lives next to the intersection, said crashes are all too common at that location.

“I see it every day,” said Bhullar, who was working with Hee to collect names Saturday.

“We understand that it’s a slow process [to install a traffic light and sidewalk] but something needs to be done now,” Bhullar added.

Hee launched a petition to improve traffic safety along 72 Avenue last year after a young boy was hit while rollerblading and a 19-year-old woman was struck in a hit-and-run crash and left lying in a ditch.

Hee said he was warned by Surrey city staff that he could face prosecution if he painted his own crosswalk on the road, while Township staff told him to remove home-made warning signs, citing transport regulations.

Ramin Seifi, Township general manager, engineering and community development, has told council plans for the area include “full signalization” near the scene of the crash early in the new year.

A memo to council from the engineering division said the Township has the money to build a traffic light at 196 Street and 72 Avenue, but can’t proceed until a design consultant hired by the city of Surrey finishes work later this year.

The memo noted plans for widening of 72 Avenue between 196 Street and 200 Street to four lanes, including left turn lanes and bicycle lanes.

It added Township staff plan to conduct pedestrian and traffic counts at the scene of the fatality, where two stop signs currently stand, “to determine if changes to the intersection traffic control are warranted.”

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