Enhancing pedestrian safety at two intersections along Thatcher Drive will have to wait until after city hall updates the community’s transportation master plan later this year.
City administration presented two reports during the 2023 budget discussions that reviewed upgrading the intersections of Ninth Avenue Northeast and Fourth Avenue Northwest along Thatcher Drive. Both recommendations urged council to receive and file the documents — which members agreed to do — so city hall could update the master plan.
Ninth Avenue Northeast
The preliminary cost to install a signalized pedestrian crossing at Ninth Avenue Northeast is $43,900, including contingency funding, engineering fees and taxes, a report said.
An aerial view of the area shows the network of pathways is incomplete, with no trails connecting to the intersection itself, the document continued. Therefore, investing in a signalized pedestrian crossing now would not serve an existing network.
Meanwhile, a high-level review of Thatcher Drive shows that the Ministry of Highways needs to first invest in the Highway 1 intersection, that Thatcher needs a lane alignment and changes to road width and that pathways need to be connected and integrated.
The 2012 transportation master plan suggested that the city should install signalized lights or a roundabout once the community reaches 45,000 people, the report added.
The engineering and parks and recreation departments will provide recommendations about possible costs to upgrade this intersection once they complete their respective transportation and trails master plans later this fall.
Coun. Crystal Froese said she understood wanting to wait for the updated master plan but was concerned about the number of pedestrians accessing the area and their safety. She acknowledged that while the trails don't match up, people still use them to reach the intersection and from there, two busy fast-food restaurants and several hotels.
She hoped there might be less expensive solutions, such as more signs or painted walkways.
The east-west trail is about 25 to 40 metres away from the intersection, so it would have to be pulled forward to connect, while there is no connecting path for the north-south trail because it ends before the Co-op gas bar, explained Bevan Harlton, director of engineering.
It would also be costly to change the intersection’s geometry while investing in signalized lights or other physical adjustments should wait until the province has completed its highway corridor study for Thatcher Drive East, he added.
City manager Jim Puffalt indicated that public works could paint crosswalk lines and install signs but would first come to council with proposed measures. He added that there is enough funding in the crosswalk painting budget to add one more intersection.
Fourth Avenue Northwest
The preliminary cost to install a signalized pedestrian crossing at Fourth Avenue Northwest is $43,900, including contingency funding, engineering fees and taxes, a second report said.
This issue arose after a community organization contacted city hall in December 2020 about the desire for overhead pedestrian lights and/or a three-way stop. The correspondence related to safety concerns about pedestrians and vehicles passing through the intersection on Thatcher Drive.
This intersection has no lights but has signs and a marked pedestrian crossing, while the crossing connects to other regularly maintained city trails, the document said.
A future lane re-alignment might make sense because the east- and westbound driving lanes decrease to one from two lanes near this intersection, while south of Thatcher on Fourth Avenue Northwest is a low clearance (3.8-metre) bridge vehicles hit annually, the report added. However, the transportation master plan does not consider this intersection suitable for improvements.
Coun. Heather Eby agreed with the report and with waiting for city hall to complete the transportation and trails master plans since they would help council make more informed decisions.