City Plans Spark Lively Exchange

Westend neighbourhood residents filled the St John School auditorium on Tuesday evening, November 22, 2016. After sharing their insights at two meetings in 2015, people were eager to hear the results. Most were disappointed.

First called the 11th Street Corridor Review, and now called the Southwest Transportation Study, the study was done 1.) to address the increased traffic on 11th Street with the completion of Circle Drive South and 2.) to connect westend neighbourhoods with the downtown in a way that did not route traffic through residential neighbourhoods of King George and Holiday Park.

The City presentation was made by Lanre Akindipe, Transportation Engineer, Saskatoon Transportation and Utilities Department. To share your comments and feedback, Akindipe can be reached at 306-975-3657 or olanrewaju.akindipe@saskatoon.ca. For maps, see http://shapingsaskatoon.ca/discussions/southwest-transportation-study-formerly-11th-street-corridor-review.

City staff outlined a number of immediate and long-term proposals:

  1. Install signal lights at Avenue W and 11th Street with a left turn signal. Close the most westerly existing Suncor access off 11th Street just east of Avenue W and move it north to a new access point on Avenue W. The more easterly Suncor access at the 4-way stop at Cameco would not change. Sidewalks would be replaced between the easterly Suncor access and Avenue W on the north side of 11th Street and between Avenue X and Cameco on the south side.
  2. At Avenue P and 11th Street add a left turn arrow to the existing signal lights. Construct an island east of the intersection to restrict through- traffic going east on 11th Street. Install No Parking signs on 11th Street on the south side east of Avenue P. Replace or build sidewalks on both side of 11th Street west from Avenue P to Avenue W.  
  3. Water Treatment Plant – Concerned with water safety, the City proposes closing Avenue H at 12th Street; close 11th Street at Avenue I; close Spadina Crescent south of plant; also close Spadina Crescent south of Schuyler Street. Add barriers at the closure points.
  4. Add medians north and south of the intersection at Avenue H and 15th Street.
  5. Narrow the roadway and add signal lights at Avenue H and 16th Street.
  6. Install signs at Avenue H and 17th Street indicating route to Circle Drive. Continue  the present 4-way stop.
  7. Long-term plan – extend 17th Street to Dawes Avenue.

When the proposals were opened for discussion from the floor, there was a steady stream of comments and concerns from residents, including:

  1. Avenue W and 11th Street Intersection – People in the Meadowgreen neighbourhood were especially concerned about getting onto 11th Street from Avenue W and welcomed new signal lights. Maintaining the 4-way stop immediately east will create a bottleneck.
    What about sidewalks along the north and south sides of 11th Street from Avenue W to Circle Drive? Why are they not in this plan? People walk this route regularly.
  2. 11th Street and Avenue P – Jay Magus, City Transportation, relayed that the traffic count on 11th Street west of Avenue P is 8300 vehicles/day. East of Avenue P the count is 4800 vehicles/day. The goal of the eastbound left-turn signal on 11th Street at Avenue P is to deflect drivers out of the King George and Holiday Park neighbourhoods to 17th Street. That is the same goal of the island to be installed immediately east of the intersection on 11th Street.
  3. Water Treatment Plant – At the meetings in 2015 residents said – Don’t close Spadina Crescent.  The 2016 proposal suggests just the opposite, saying that a City Risk Assessment revealed the fragility of water safety currently. People in the crowd said if the open water holding is a concern, cover it. If underground pipes are a concern, deal with it in ways other than closing the roadways. The roadway was long established before the Water Treatment Plant was located there. The Plant should accommodate the roadways, not the opposite.
    People commented that the route along Avenue H to Spadina Crescent and south to Valley Road has been travelled since the City began. “Our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents relied on this route.” Indeed, consultant Raymond Moriyama’s Meewasin Valley Project-100 Year Concept Plan of 1978 recommended that Spadina Crescent be enhanced as a roadway to reach the southwest river valley. A representative from Corman Park said the RM had not been apprised of this planned permanent closure. Another commented that SaskPower officials are not happy about the plan.
    Also, with the planned re-routing to Avenue I, the people living there will be devastated.
  4. Avenue H and 15th, 16th and 17th Streets – Pedestrian safety is a key goal here. Slowing and calming the traffic will help safety, even though stopping and starting will increase for drivers.
  5. 17th Street Extension diagonally from Avenue P to Dawes Avenue – Long-Range- 5-10 years – The new diagonal extension southwest from Avenue P to Dawes Avenue did not elicit much comment since it will go through an industrial area and not affect residential areas.
    East of Avenue P, in the King George Local Area Plan of 2001 and the Riversdale Local Area Plan of 2008, (and in the Southwest Sector Plan of 2007) – nowhere was it seen as beneficial to make 17th Street a major roadway for car and truck traffic. In fact, the LAPs called for traffic calming measures on 17th Street. Both neighbourhoods sought a safe, environmentally-clean quality of life, free of industrial noise and air pollution, for people in these communities.
    What is the current traffic count on 17th Street and what do you expect it will increase? Jay Magus, Saskatoon Transportation, replied that the present count is 2200 vehicles/day and the expected count will rise to 4400 vehicles/day.
  6. Rail Crossing at Dundonald Avenue – Why was the separation of railway and roadway not made in 2010 when Circle Drive construction was underway? As long as the rail crosses 11th Street and we are subject to delays ranging from 30 minutes to more than an hour, there will be traffic issues on 11th Street. Some trains have backed up westbound traffic past the Avenue W intersection. Imagine the traffic tie-up if this happens when a traffic light and an adjacent 4-way stop are involved.
  7. Sporting Complexes south of 11th Street – Traffic after games and tournaments on the football field, ball fields, hockey rinks, skating oval, golf course and the campground – all contribute to traffic congestion and have not been accounted for in the present City proposals. When the football field empties after a Hilltop game, there is now only one exit. The route around the field to go west onto Dudley is no longer accessible. This route used to syphon off much traffic from westend neighbourhoods. Now all traffic is funnelled along Avenue P. The 17th Street extension won’t help with this. City officials said they will change signage, parking, and signal light timing to meet the challenges.
  8. Cycling and Walking – Traffic calming is appreciated. Multi-use bike trails close to roadways are appreciated but messy. Too close to the road and bikers are inundated with dust, dirt, mud and air quality stresses. City officials said that Saskatoon has no minimum distance requirements for splash zones or safety zones.

Residents have one month to comment – until December 22, 2016. Contact Lanre Akindipe at 306-975-3657 or olanrewaju.akindipe@saskatoon.ca.

For maps and minutes, see http://shapingsaskatoon.ca/discussions/southwest-transportation-study-formerly-11th-street-corridor-review .