A traffic consultant engaged by the City of Campbell River to draft a master transportation plan is recommending Dogwood Street go on a “diet.”
That is a road diet involving reducing the number of traffic lanes into two north-south lanes, implementing a middle turn lane and – wait for it – creating two bike lanes at the curb.
“Currently, the traffic lights on Dogwood operate in coordinated mode. So you’re supposed to get a green wave northbound in the morning and a green wave southbound in the afternoon. It’s very fussy to get exactly right for a number of technical reasons, and it’s never quite worked perfectly,” city transportation specialist Melissa Heidema told council’s May 30 Committee of the Whole meeting.
Heidema presented the Campbell River Master Transportation Plan and Dogwood Corridor Study Phase 2 Report prepared by Watt Victoria. The Dogwood Corridor Study (DCS) proposed five different scenarios:
1. Current road layout and signal phasing
2. Current road layout, removing the split phasing
3. Road diet, 2-phase signal timing, signals in free mode
4. Road diet, 2-phase signal timing, signals coordinated
5. Road diet, plus roundabouts
Option one is the way Dogwood Street is currently operating. Option two is the way it operated prior to 2009 (no left turn arrows). Options three, four and five are the road diet option. Free mode is when all of the intersections operate independently of each other, Heidema said. Currently the lights operate in coordinated mode.
The road diet options would restrip the lanes and give it a similar layout to the new sections of Highway 19A – One lane travelling in each direction, a centre to a left turn lane and bike lanes.
“I will caution that the bike lanes will feel narrow as they are below optimal width,” Heidema said.
The consultants used a computer program called Synchro to model and analyze traffic flows across the five different scenarios and settled on option three as the recommended one. That would involve the signals operating independently of each other.
Roundabouts would delay traffic the least – by more than twice as much – and is the safest option, Heidema said, but the current intersections don’t have enough room to build roundabouts, so that option was taken off the table.
“The road diet has many benefits. It actually performs better in the p.m. when you compare it to the existing operations,” Heidema said. “It’s a lot more safe so if you think about putting the cross section of Highway 19A onto Dogwood, every time you wanted to turn left, mid-block, you would be in a separate to a left turn lane instead of in traffic and worried about being rear ended.”
The bike lane option made some city councillors nervous.
“It looked like the diet options also made Dogwood into like another opposing bike lane corridor as well, but at the expense of a full lane of traffic without bus pullouts,” Coun. Ben Lanyon said. “So, I think that I have concerns about that. And I think I think the public would raise some issues, if push came to shove on that issue.”
Coun. Sean Smyth echoed comments by other councillors who referenced the likelihood of increasing density on the Dogwood corridor and the impact that will have on the configuration of the roadway.
“Whenever you increase density, you’re going to increase traffic and increased traffic and active transportation (cycling) don’t mix really well. And that’s my concern with with the diet of Dogwood, right?” Smyth said.
Smyth said the city is putting bike lanes on Birch Street and feels McPhedran Road would be a better place for bike lanes than Dogwood. If those were done, there wouldn’t be a need to put bike lanes on Dogwood Street, he said.
“So, if we could funnel the bicycles onto the less busy roads, people can still get access all the way right down the whole of town, it’ll be safer for the cyclists, as well as it’ll keep the flow of traffic,” Smyth said. “And so, if you want to see frustrated drivers, condense them down and have them share a congested road with cyclists. It doesn’t work well.”
Councillors passed a motion that included accepting the recommendations in the Dogwood Corridor Study and sending it out to the public for feedback. The motion also included the same actions for the Master Transportation Plan, Phase 2 Report.