Q&A - When is a Construction Zone Really a Construction Zone?

Q&A ImageThe off road construction on Campbell Hill, Westbank side of the Kelowna bridge, highway 97.

Equipment and personnel are not on the highway or possess hazardous physically access the vicinity of traffic lanes on that stretch of highway unless their stupidity violates common sense. Their work area is protected off to the side with crash cement barriers throughout the area…. So why the signs “construction zone”?

YET further along the highway: still on the Westbank side, in the area of 97 Hwy & Butt Rd or 97 Hwy & Hudson …. Weeks now, men with operating equipment working on rapid bus stop insert are right next to traffic flow. No change in speed signs or construction restrictions and they are probably in greater danger because of left & right  turns, yellow lights with high volume of  double flow traffic lanes. They operate from meager orange marker cones or minor tape barriers.  Are they second class or different from the workers at Campbell road …not permitted in having protective barriers or even construction signs…..?  I just don’t get it. Is it that no one wants to interfere with the already poor traffic flow at Butt & Hwy 97 but we can cause congested traffic at the bridge.

Summary: There exists a public perception of the Campbell ticket area (wonder how many) represents yet another high density “cash grab”.

Not the ideal RCMP Public relations. Why restrict traffic at the bridge which we hope was designed to keep the traffic moving…. RCMP stopping cars in an area where no off road “ticketing area” is available ( yet they pull people alongside the concrete barriers causing confusion or two lanes to merge merging into one. Ridiculously hazardous when working too close to the traffic lanes; placing RCMP & motorist at risk.

I would hate to see an officer or even an innocent motorist be the focus of a serious preventable accident followed by a liability law case…………..A possible future article by you may convince your former colleagues and Ministry of Transportation to cease the practice, return to the designated speed flow and when REAL construction interferes with traffic: then institute a Construction Zone. Keep crying “wolf” with trumped up construction zones only detracts from the serious acceptance that it is a construction zone. Reminds me of stretches of highways were lazy construction crews leave the signs up for days but they are nowhere in sight….just another cry wolf scenario. 

The culprit is the Ministry of Transportation , without really thinking or investigating the situation, may have unknowingly approved a blanket “construction zone” designation. Thus causing a life threaten problem for RCMP & motorist that could be avoided in this particular Campbell Road phase of construction. I would suggest that technically, with the barriers, a Construction Zone does not exist. Eventually someone will probably, if not already, challenge the issue in court. Campbell hill detracts from the seriousness WHEN there is a bona fide CONSTRUCTION AREA and workers are really at risk. 

Hopefully your comments can either correct the injustice, turn the dumb decision against the political mandarins or help to support for the RCMP in gaining creditability. RCMP are not the cause: yet they face the public and the perception of using this ill-advised construction zone as another “cash grab”.

Comments

Answer

The Motor Vehicle Act does not define what a construction zone is. I had a look at the Transportation Act as well, but it was not defined there either. The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has a Traffic Control Manual for Work on Roadways that sets the accepted standards for work on roadways. Once the signs required by the standard are posted, I would expect that the courts would accept that as being within a construction zone for the purposes of the MVA.

The signs are likely left in place because some hazard exists even though the workers have gone home for the day. Failing to do this might result in legal liability if a collision were to occur.

There are a number of specific rules for when you are driving within one:

Work in progress

138  On a highway where new construction, reconstruction, widening, repair, marking or other work is being carried out, traffic control devices must be erected indicating that persons or equipment are working on the highway.

Erection of speed sign

139  On a highway where new construction, reconstruction, widening, repair, marking or other work is being carried out, traffic control devices must be erected to limit the rate of speed of vehicles or to restrict the manner in which the vehicles are to proceed on the highway.

Obedience to speed signs

140  Where traffic control devices as indicated in section 138 or 139 are erected or placed on the highway, a person must not drive or operate a vehicle at a greater rate of speed than, or in a manner different from, that indicated on the signs.

Obeying flagger

141  If a flagger is controlling the movements of traffic around the section of highway being worked on, a person must not drive or operate a vehicle other than as directed by the flagger.

Obeying traffic control person

141.1  (1) In this section, "authorization" means an authorization that is prescribed or authorized by a regulation under section 209.1 or a resolution or bylaw of the council of a municipality under section 124.2.

(2) If a traffic control person is controlling the movements of traffic on a highway, a person must obey the directions of the traffic control person.

(3) If a highway or lane has been designated as a designated use highway or designated use lane, as the case may be, the driver of a vehicle must, on the request of a traffic control person or peace officer, produce to the traffic control person or peace officer an authorization, and allow the authorization to be taken in hand and inspected by the traffic control person or peace officer.

(4) If a driver or person in charge of a motor vehicle does not produce an authorization to use the designated use highway or designated use lane on the request of a traffic control person or peace officer under subsection (3), the traffic control person or peace officer may direct the driver or person in charge of the motor vehicle to remove the motor vehicle from that highway or lane immediately.

Removal of temporary sign

142  A person must not leave temporary traffic control devices in place on a highway after the reason for them being there no longer exists.

Is this about politics, safety, or law enforcement?

Thanks to our Site Admin Guy for finding the relevant link to the legislation over construction signage and like that.  This place is a great resource.

My question for the OP would be what steps he/she has taken toward resolving these issues with the local authorities?  It's hard to argue that police enforcement of traffic behaviour through any construction zone is over-zealous - even though there may be other locations where they could be more effectively employed.  This is a hazardous area for the people working in it.

This is a frustrating time of year for motorists, being the optimum season for tackling construction work; so many utilities are buried underneath, under various governances, and when all's said and done and reconstructed then the top surface has to be restored.  And these various constructors will utilize different companies to control their work zones; some are way better than others (I for one am sick and tired of seeing some cigarette smoking young woman with an indifferent attitude paying more attention to the excavation than the traffic control she's supposedly responsible for - you gotta love the internet, that sentence was so politically incorrect, eh?).

But it's never that difficult to find out who's in charge, and responsible, at various levels in order to launch a complaint about inadequate traffic control, either by the construction people and their traffic services people, or by the local police if they seem to be ignoring a potentially dangerous situation.  In places like Kelowna, the local newspaper is a great place to articulately voice your concerns.

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