An RCMP accident investigator takes notes at the scene of a fatal crash on 16 Avenue near 224 Street. The driver of the mini-van died after she was involved in a collision with a pickup truck.

Change in works for deadly 16 Avenue

Council votes to expedite road improvement study after April 8 two-vehicle crash claims the life of a 79-year-old woman

One of Langley’s deadliest stretches of road has claimed another life.

A 79-year-old Langley grandmother died from the injuries she sustained in a crash at the intersection of 16 Avenue and 224 Street Friday morning (April 8).

Officers were called to the scene just before 10 a.m.

According to police, an eastbound pickup truck collided with a northbound Dodge Caravan.  The driver of the Caravan was taken away by air ambulance, but succumbed to her injuries.

The driver of the pickup truck, a 20-year-old Langley man, was transported to hospital by ground ambulance for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.

Efforts to determine the speed of the pickup truck are under way, said Langley RCMP Cpl. Holly Largy. However, it isn’t known if the van stopped at the stop sign and proceeded when unsafe to do so or if the van didn’t stop at all, said Largy.

Police are looking for witnesses to the crash and ask anyone who may have seen it to call them.

It was on Tuesday of the same week that a serious crash involving a flipped concrete truck sent a 67-year-old Abbotsford man to hospital and shut down 16 Avenue between 240 and 245 Streets.

The westbound, fully loaded concrete truck veered off the road and went into a ditch. It struck a driveway and sheared off a power pole. The driver suffered head and chest injuries and was taken to hospital via air ambulance.

Last month, a young man lost his life in a collision at the intersection of 16 Avenue and 197A Street, where the Mustang he was in was rear-ended by a pickup truck as the car’s driver waited to make a left turn.

Township Coun. Charlie Fox lives near 16 Avenue and has tried to make traffic safety along this busy corridor a priority for years.

At Monday’s Township council meeting, he got his wish.

Engineering staff provided council with a report and update on the corridor, recommending that council direct staff to look at design improvements for the short-term, which include creating pull-out bays for RCMP to carry out traffic enforcement and for slower farm vehicles to move out of the way of faster moving traffic.

Currently, there are no proper shoulders on 16 Avenue for police to pull over vehicles.

Staff also suggested in the medium term (six to 15 years) they further examine whether traffic lights are warranted at 208 Street, 232 Street and 272 Street.

“These recommendations are not soon enough,” said Fox. “There seems to be a disconnect between the reality of residents and the need for solutions.”

Last month, Fox made a motion calling for funding in the 2017 and 2018 budgets to install traffic signals at 208, 224, 232, 240, 256 and 272 Streets to allow for traffic-activated north-south crossings. Fox said the deadliest north-south crossings on 16 Avenue are at 208 and 240 Streets.

On Monday, council unanimously supported Fox’s new motion to have all major intersections along 16 Avenue looked at as potential locations for traffic lights and to expedite the study and bring back the results to council quickly.

Staff will look at traffic volumes and collision histories at each intersection.

16 Avenue is part of the Major Road Network and in order to get cost sharing from TransLink, the traffic and safety studies on those intersections would have to show that a signal light is warranted.

As a former police officer, Mayor Jack Froese warned that traffic lights could lead to even more catastrophic collisions.

“In my experience, the most horrendous accidents are at lighted intersections. I’m not buying that lights will fix the problems there,” Froese said. He believes more rear end collisions will occur.

Township engineer Paul Corderio said signals will improve safety for north/south traffic.

“The do-nothing scenario is not an option for us anymore,” said Coun. Angie Quaale.

After the vote, Quaale also asked that council send a letter to Langley RCMP Supt. Murray Power to encourage a strong police presence along that corridor.

Several councillors remarked that over the past two weeks police have been noticeable there.

She also pointed out that when the Port Mann bridge was being built, the Province carried out a signage campaign to create awareness about traffic pattern changes as well as a PR blitz that saw huge success.

“We have creative staff.

“I’m sure they can come up with signage saying this is a high-crash area and create a PR awareness campaign in the short term,” Quaale said.

The speed limit along 16 Avenue is 60 km/h, but a traffic study showed that 85 per cent of the drivers travel at 80 km/h along the two lane road.

Truck traffic makes up around 14 per cent of the users of the street which sees more than 14,500 vehicles per day. There were 673 car crashes over a five-year period between 2008 and 2012.

“That’s more than one a week — that’s not acceptable,” said Quaale.

The most common type of crash is rear-end collisions; the second happens as people exit or enter driveways.

Staff also recommends that new driveways be prohibited from fronting 16 Avenue and they would also like to reduce the number of existing driveways with consent from property owners.

In the medium-term, staff would like to build two-way turn lanes to reduce the number of rear-end crashes. Roundabouts are not feasible for 16 Avenue, the report indicated.

There will also be wildlife fencing put up where possible. There were a number of crashes that resulted from drivers hitting  deer, according to the report.

Last year, the Township polled residents about a proposal to send more traffic down  busy 16 Avenue.

The King Road connector is an Abbotsford plan that would connect Highway 1 to 16 Avenue.

Long-term plans, 15 years or more from now, would see still more left-turn lanes added and the road widened to four lanes east of 176 Street.

The study notes the route is currently running 13 to 16 per cent truck traffic, compared to the “average arterial” which carries five to 10 per cent trucks.

Trudy Handel lives along 16 Avenue and said no one obeys the speed limit on that road, and much of the traffic consists of heavily loaded gravel and transport trucks.

“Because they are exceeding the speed limit, it is easy to misjudge their approach to an intersection. 16 Avenue is now connected to Highway 99, and it will be connected to Highway 1 next year through Abbotsford.

“This will make 16 Avenue a main arterial east-west route.”

Froese asked Corderio has much money has been spent over the years bringing improvements to 16 Avenue.

“We have done several million dollars in improvements,” he responded. In those, traffic lights have been put in at 200 and 216 Streets. Overhead flashing beacons are at  approaches to intersections, he added.

South Langley resident Kevin Mitchell spoke to council about the deadly road. He said he represented the community around 16 Avenue who want traffic lights installed at every (major) intersection in the next two years.

“How many more have to die?” he asked. Mitchell told council he plans to host a community meeting on the topic within the next three weeks.

Fox also asked that the school district be consulted about the route.

“School bus drivers are having a terrible time on 16 Avenue and I fear what could happen. The district wasn’t consulted and I think they should be,” he added.

After the council meeting, Fox said he is hopeful but wonders whether his fellow council members will agree to fund traffic lights come budget time next fall.

“The bottom line is all this is, right now, is talk,” said Fox in a later interview. “Everyone is running on a high emotional alert right now but when push comes to shove come budget time, will they implement these traffic lights?”

Fox is hoping staff will bring back the traffic volume reports on each major intersection before the summer break.

“That way we can dovetail that information into implementation in the 2017 budgeting in the fall,” said Fox.

The Township anticipates that 16 Avenue will reach its capacity for traffic by 2031.

 

Dangerous 16 Avenue:

 

So far this year two deaths have been recorded along 16 Avenue in Langley.

A 79-year-old grandmother  from Langley lost her life trying to cross 16 Avenue at 224 Street on Friday, April 8.

On March 10, Shaun Sutton was killed at the intersection of 16 Avenue and 197A Street, while on his way to visit his grieving aunt who had just lost her daughter, a Brookswood Secondary student, in a crash near Mission.

The eastbound Mustang had stopped at 197A Street to make a left hand turn and was rear-ended by a Dodge pickup truck. There were three occupants in the Mustang, including Sutton in the back seat.

 

• June 2015 a multi-vehicle collision on 16 Avenue near 226 Street sent several to hospital with serious injuries. The four-vehicle collision sent two people to hospital via Air Ambulance and two others by ground.

A small pickup truck travelling east had stopped to make a left hand turn into a driveway. Another vehicle had stopped behind the pickup truck. The second vehicle was rear ended by a dump truck starting a chain reaction, which pushed the small pickup truck into the oncoming lane. Once in the westbound lane, the pickup was struck by a westbound SUV.

 

• December 2013 A fiery crash on 16 Avenue sent five to hospital including a toddler.

The serious crash in the 26700 block of 16 Avenue caused a Camaro to burst into flames and left the driver of a pickup truck with life-threatening injuries. The Camaro, carrying a man, a woman and a toddler, was eastbound on 16 Avenue when a westbound pickup truck spun sideways and entered the oncoming lane. The Camaro driver attempted to avoid the collision and T-boned the pickup truck.  Of the three adult male occupants of the pickup truck, one passenger was uninjured and the driver was taken to hospital by Air Ambulance.

 

• August 2013 an 80-year-old Langley woman died in a crash involving a dump truck, at 16 Avenue and 256 Street. Police said the woman failed to stop at the southbound stop sign, crossing directly into the path of the dump truck.

 

• September  2013 two people died after a head-on collision between a Jeep Cherokee and a gravel truck on 16 Avenue.  The two killed were inside the Jeep. The investigation indicated the driver of the Jeep tried to pass another vehicle across a double solid line heading west, crossing into the path of an eastbound gravel truck between 200 and 208 Streets.

 

• 2012 A 47-year-old Delta man was killed at 240 Street and 16 Avenue after a pickup truck fleeing from police slammed into two vehicles.

Police have said in the past that the the lack of shoulder lanes on 16 Avenue makes it too dangerous for them to pull anyone over if they were to operate a speed trap along the route.