That, at least, is the professional opinion of John Robinson, a traffic and road safety expert with the Halifax consulting engineering firm Delphi-MRC.
Robinson, who was instrumental in helping the P.E.I. government design the two modern roundabouts on Riverside Drive in Charlottetown, fully endorses the province’s intention to realign the Trans-Canada Highway around the north of the CBC tower in Churchill and down to the West River.
Statistically, he notes, this stretch of road has taken a disproportionately high toll on motorists and their passengers.
The particular stretch has a collision rate that is 56 percent higher than the average of the Trans-Canada highway as a whole that runs from Charlottetown to Borden.
There have been 103 collisions along this winding stretch of road between 1996 and 2010. Two people have died and 38 others have been injured over this period.
That toll, says Robinson, needs to be addressed.
“You don’t want high-risk areas being left to perpetuate themselves and take a toll,’’ he said.
“I think when you look at the numbers and you look at the difference between that (stretch) and the rest of the Trans Canada and then you look at the alignment as it exists now – and you can readily identify the risk points – you begin to see that there is something that has to be done here.’’
In some cases, Robinson notes, a little tweaking can go a long way to reduce safety risks in road alignment.
Such tweaking, known as in corridor safety improvements, would not do the job to make the stretch of road significantly safer, he says.
Rather, the province’s proposed realignment that is expected to cost more than $16 million is required to truly bring the road up to speed.
Robinson says the proposed work, the so-called Plan B, makes a lot of sense.
“It provides a good, smooth connection and opportunities to reduce the grades all the way up there which means we get better operating conditions,’’ he said.
“We get less speed differential between the heavy trucks and smaller vehicles.’’
He adds the proposed realignment will give motorists greater visibility, noting a key factor in reducing collisions is providing good sight conditions all the way through a highway.
“This is much more in keeping with the kind of alignment not only that they (local motorists) have seen on P.E.I. but the kind of alignment they have seen on undivided highways elsewhere in their drives through the Maritimes,’’ said Robinson.
He acknowledges that some area residents remain determined to block the project. A group called the Committee of Citizens Concerned About Plan B is working to rally opposition to the proposed realignment.
“There’s always a lot of emotion attached to roads and it’s viable emotion and it has to be listened to and I think the department is doing a good job listening and I think the community is doing a good job of putting its case (forward),’’ he said.