Dogwood Street, the busiest road in the city with the highest crash rate, may see some improvements, according to the city’s draft Master Transportation Plan.
However, going back to the old traffic light system won’t be one of them.
The city moved to a split three-phase timing system in June 2009 to improve mobility and safety along Dogwood, particularly for cars turning left off Dogwood onto cross streets.
Ron Neufeld, city manager of operations, also figures travel times have improved since the light system was tweaked in January.
The Master Transportation Plan, which is being updated, does not recommend abandoning the new system.
Instead, it suggests the addition of dedicated left-turn lanes at Merecroft Road, Evergreen Road, 2nd, 4th, 7th and 16th avenue intersections in order to minimize the impact of left-turning vehicles.
To do so, the city would have to acquire extra property at many intersections in order to keep current lane widths to ensure consistency. Left-turn lanes would fall in line with the city’s priority of improving safety on Dogwood.
There has been a slight reduction in accidents on Dogwood since the introduction of the new light system.
“Prior to the change in signal timing, there were 65 reported collisions between July 2008 and June 2009, compared to 62 reported collisions July 2009 and June 2010,” according to Urban Systems, which authored the transportation plan.
Many of those accidents were the result of vehicles turning left either on or off Dogwood. Of the 76 collisions at the intersection of Evergreen and Dogwood, 49 per cent were due to a left-hand turns, while 44 per cent of the 86 accidents at 2nd Avenue and Dogwood were the result of a left turning driver, and 37 per cent of the 64 accidents in the intersection of 16th Avenue and Dogwood were left-turn collisions.
Dogwood has the highest traffic volume of any city road – with the section between Merecroft Road and 9th Avenue accommodating approximately 13,000 vehicles per day – so it’s not surprising it has more accidents than any other street.
Dogwood also has eight of the top 10 collision locations in the city with intersections at Merecroft, Evergreen, 2nd, 4th and 16th all seeing more than eight accidents per year.
With safety in mind, the Transportation Plan also recommends accessible pedestrian signals, as well as the installation of countdown timers for users at key intersections. It also suggests altering traffic lights so that transit buses can pre-empt traffic signals, like emergency vehicles, to give them the right-of-way.
The plan also examines busy Alder Street.
“The lack of intersection controls, particularly between Merecroft and 9th Avenue, has been noted as contributing to the attractiveness of Alder Street as compared to Dogwood Street, which has six traffic signals over this stretch.”
The consultants predict there could be significant delays in the future at the intersection of Alder and 2nd Avenue if traffic patterns remain the same and it recommends putting in traffic signals at that location as well as at the intersection of Merecroft and Alder, or possibly roundabouts.
It also suggests curb extensions at all major intersections and crosswalks along Alder to shorten pedestrian crossing distances, as well as sidewalks along both sides of the entire street. Finally, it recommends signage at the Dogwood and Alder intersection to encourage the use of Dogwood Street as the primary route to downtown instead of Alder.
The plan was drafted in consultation with the public with an aim of shaping transportation investment and programs over the next 25 years. It is expected to be complete by early summer.