By David F. Rooney
Mayor Mark McKee had hoped that a stoplight at the CPR overpass would, if synchronized with the two existing lights on the Trans-Canada, help alleviate the current congestion at Victoria Road’s intersection with the highway. He was particularly attracted to the price tag, perhaps $300,000 as opposed to $2.1 million for a roundabout at Victoria and Wright Street.
But a report to Council from Engineering and Development Services Director Mike Thomas last Tuesday, May 24, dashed that hope. In fact, the report suggested another traffic signal would make the situation worse — not better. He wrote:
“To summarize the report, they analyzed existing traffic conditions, using data supplied by the City from a summer weekend in 2015, and attempting to match the existing highway signal timings. The analysis found that:
- While the signal was red for vehicles on Victoria, the movements at the Victoria/Mutas intersection did improve, (but still operating at a level of service rating of F);
- While the signal is green, approximately 19 vehicles could be released to match the highway signal, but during this 36-second time, no vehicles would be able to turn onto Victoria northbound to the highway, creating even greater delays on the side streets; and
- Additionally, in peak times, the signal would actually cause a growing queue along Victoria, which would likely impact the ability to turn from Wright Street.
“The observations section of the report explains the results, and indicates that the random northbound Victoria movements actually allows for turning opportunities, and that building and releasing platoons of traffic makes things worse.
“The other challenge that is briefly mentioned is dealing with this signal during lower traffic volumes. Compliance with a red light signal may be difficult to achieve if drivers do not believe there is any safety reason for them to be stopped.”
That left Council with few options. As Councillor Scott Duke observed: “There’s no perfect solution to this problem… But this summer (that intersection) is going to be the biggest problem” as the RMR’s new mountain coaster is expected to draw increasing numbers of visitors off the highway.
“We’re going to go ahead with preliminary designs (for the roundabout) and get a better handle on what the costs are going to be,” he said during his regular post-Council Question Period with the local news media. “Council still has to make a final approval based on the cost and where the m0ney is going to come from.”
McKee said he has been speaking with the Minister of Transportation about this but has not received a commitment from him regarding provincial support for the project.
If approved, the roundabout and accompanying changes to the entrance to the restaurant loopat Woodenhead Park and the turn into the Tim Hortons/Shell/Super 8 complex on the opposite side of Victoria would be completed be next spring or early summer.
You can watch Council’s entire discussion of this issue beginning at the 17:53 point on Part 2 of the City Council video.
You can watch McKee’s comments to the news media starting at the 52-minute mark on Part 2 of the City Council video below.