First-of-its-kind intersection in P.E.I. requires 11 instructional videos to explain

·2 min read

CHARLOTTETOWN — The P.E.I. government has produced no less than 11 online videos to show drivers how to navigate a new intersection in Charlottetown, described as the first of its kind in Canada.

The busy intersection on the east side of the city, which is still under construction, will soon feature two so-called displaced left turn lanes on the Trans-Canada Highway.

The strangely hypnotic instructional videos, produced with detailed computer animation, show every conceivable option for drivers approaching the redesigned roadways.

"They are relatively short clips, but they really bring attention to how (drivers) are going to manoeuvre through the intersection," Stephen Yeo, chief engineer for the province's Transportation Department, said in an interview Friday.

"It draws attention to the unique characteristics that are going to change at that intersection."

Even though the Island is known for its laid-back style, bucolic scenery and lack of traffic jams, it would be a mistake to think Charlottetown has no traffic congestion, Yeo said.

The intersection in question handled about 45,000 vehicles daily — pre-pandemic.

 "We don't have the 400-series highways, like around Toronto, and we don't have 400,000 vehicles on our highways," said Yeo. "But we do have 45,000 vehicles a day going through this intersection, and it does get backed up with delays . . . . And we do have a lot of tourist traffic in the summer."

Under the current configuration, motorists turning left from the Trans-Canada Highway can sometimes wait up to 20 minutes to complete the manoeuvre onto St. Peters Road.

Yeo said his department considered other options to reduce gridlock, including a roundabout, overpass or something called "jug handles," but none of those approaches was feasible, partly because the nearby Hillsborough forest had to be protected. 

Several U.S. states use displaced left lanes, which divert traffic from the main intersection, improving traffic flow and reducing idling time.

"It will work very well to clear up the congestion," Yeo said. "The displaced left also reduces T-bone accidents .... It takes away four collision points that exist now."

The new intersection, which will cost $5.3 million to build, is expected to open to traffic as early as Nov. 15.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 6, 2020

— By Michael MacDonald in Halifax.

The Canadian Press