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Pedestrian lights, crosswalks could address safety at Ninth NE and Thatcher Drive

Heavy traffic at the intersection of Ninth Avenue Northeast and Thatcher Drive can make crossing the street difficult for pedestrians, but city hall’s proposed 2023 budget could address that issue.
Ninth NE and Thatcher Drive
The intersection of Ninth Avenue Northeast and Thatcher Drive is a busy one most days. Photo by Jason G. Antonio

Heavy traffic at the intersection of Ninth Avenue Northeast and Thatcher Drive can make crossing the street difficult for pedestrians, but city hall’s proposed 2023 budget could address that issue.

City council discussed a motion during its Sept. 26 regular meeting about authorizing city administration to explore installing either traffic lights or pedestrian lights and crosswalks at that intersection and add the project to the 2023 budget.

Council eventually voted 5-2 to have administration explore installing only pedestrian lights and/or a crosswalk and present the project during budget discussions.

Councillors Dawn Luhning and Heather Eby were opposed.

A busy area

There are three hotels in that northeast corner with a fourth under construction, while there are two busy fast-food restaurants across from each other, said Coun. Crystal Froese, who presented the motion. 

That intersection is difficult for pedestrians to navigate, while groups of people coming from the hotels or gas station become stuck at the corner because of how heavy traffic is, she continued. 

“I would like for council to consider during budget process, whether some type of lights or enhancements to that intersection, to make it a bit safer,” Froese added, “as we’re seeing a lot more people walking around and a lot more truck traffic and car traffic as well.”

That area has indeed become busier the last few years, especially as development has occurred, but council is facing another tight budget in 2023, said Luhning. She didn’t think council could afford to address that intersection right now.

“Quite frankly, I think the four-way intersection is working well … ,” she added.

The master plan

City hall bases its decision-making about traffic management around its master plan, which was last updated in 2012, said Bevan Harlton, director of engineering. He has a group preparing to issue a request for proposal so that a new transportation master plan can be created in 2023.

“That will help us move into proactive work across the city and include corridor studies and downtown parking studies and all the things I need to give myself ammunition to respond to requests like this to see if the work is warranted,” he continued. 

Harlton added that he could provide data about that intersection — which he agreed was busy — next year once the master plan was updated.

Waiting for the plan

Eby preferred to handle this issue once the engineering department had conducted a complete traffic study and revealed what other areas were also facing pressures and required attention. She wanted to see everything in full context.

She agreed that the four-way stop was working well for that area.

Lines can help

The transportation master plan might be 10 years old, but that shouldn’t prevent city hall from adding pedestrian lines and crosswalks, which wouldn’t be as heavy on the budget as lights, said Froese. 

Council has previously had similar issues addressed by a traffic grading process that determined whether an intersection needed a stop sign. One of the city’s advisory committees has also provided input.

“I’m mostly worried about pedestrians going across that (intersection). We have lots of teams who come and stay in those hotels, who make their way across to Tim Hortons and down to McDonald’s and back and to the Co-op,” she added. “It’s just a really busy intersection … .”

Coun. Jamey Logan preferred to wait for the 2023 transportation master plan before making any decisions about the intersection — although he would support pedestrian lights there. He also agreed that it is “dicey” for pedestrians to cross those roads, especially with two pathways that have seemingly no way across.

The next regular council meeting is Tuesday, Oct. 11. 

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