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Nelson intersection the most dangerous in West Kootenay

There were 14 crashes at the intersection of Highway 3A, Government Road and Granite Road in 2021
This intersection at Highway 3A on the southwest border of Nelson is the site of the most vehicular accidents in the West Kootenay. Illustration: Google Maps

An intersection on the edge of Nelson’s city limits is the most dangerous in the West Kootenay.

Annual motor vehicle incident data provided by ICBC shows 14 crashes at the intersection of Highway 3A, Government Road and Granite Road on Nelson’s southwest side in 2021. Of those, six caused either injury or a fatality.

The intersection has also been the most likely location for crashes in the region for over five years.

Between 2017 to 2021 there were 62 crashs at the intersection, where Highway 3A bisects Government Road and Granite Road. Thirty-six of those incidents only caused property damage, but 26 ended with injury or fatality.

Nelson Mayor John Dooley says the city has previously broached the need for change at the intersection with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, but nothing came of it.

“It’s potentially at a point now with the traffic volumes that it probably could use a light at that intersection,” said Dooley. “It’s not a true T. The two side roads coming into the main highway are coming at two different angles, so it is a tough intersection to navigate. If you want to cross the highway, it’s not easy.”

The transportation ministry said in a statement it does not consider the intersection to be among the southern Interior’s top collision-prone locations.

“The intersection has had upgrades in the past – left-turn bays, right-turn raised channelized islands, and a flashing beacon to alert motorists of this significant intersection. At this time, based on traffic engineering studies, a traffic signal is not warranted at this location.”

Nelson had 162 crashes in 2021, followed by 98 in Trail, 91 in Castlegar, 46 in Creston and 39 in Grand Forks.

The region’s second-most dangerous intersection is in Castlegar at Columbia Avenue and Highway 3, where there were 46 crashes between 2017 and 2021. That’s followed by 42 crashes in Trail at Bailey Street, Bay Avenue and Victoria Street.

In Nelson, other intersections of note last year included Front and Hall Streets (nine crashes), Baker Street and Highway 3A with seven (ICBC refers to the intersection as Baker, Vernon Street and Ymir Road), Baker and Stanley Streets (six) and five at both Baker and Kootenay Street and Baker and Ward Street.

Dooley said the city’s first choice for an intersection in need of change is at Baker and Highway 3A, a four-way stop with no light that acts as the border between downtown Nelson and the Railtown neighbourhood. There have been 31 crashs at the intersection since 2017.

“It’s really not very friendly for pedestrians. We’re getting more and more people who are choosing to walk or cycle. It has limited provisions for either cyclists or pedestrians at that intersection.”

The transportation ministry appears to agree. A spokesperson said changes to the intersection will be announced “in the near future.”

Outside of Nelson, the most crashes by West Kootenay community in 2021 include: Castlegar’s Columbia Avenue and Highway 3 (13), Trail’s Bailey Street and Second Avenue (11), Creston’s Canyon Street, 16th Ave. North and 16th Ave. South (seven), and Grand Forks’ Central Avenue, 11th Street and Fire Lane (four).

Want to check on intersections near you? Use the interactive map below.


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Tyler Harper

About the Author: Tyler Harper

I’m editor-reporter at the Nelson Star, where I’ve worked since 2015.
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