Minnow Lake CAN still objects to five-lane intersection
The CAN has come up with alternative road design to reduce the maximum number of lanes to three from five, which city planners are proposing for a section of the roadway where traffic lights are going in. City staff says having five lanes allows for turning lanes to ensure traffic clears quickly after a red light.
The road work will make several changes to the section of Second Avenue between First Avenue and Donna Drive. It will improve the design of entrances to the Civic Cemetery and the dog park, put sidewalks on both sides of the road, and create 'bus bays,' which are lanes that allow transit buses to pull over to pick up passengers, rather than stopping on the roadway and holding up traffic.
After a public outcry over a lack of bike lanes, a revised plan was presented Tuesday, which included a mix of paved shoulders and cycle tracks, which are raised curbs that separate cyclists from the rest of traffic. But the five-lane intersection from Donna to Scarlett remained.
Tuesday's session was held at the Adamsdale field house, and people began filing in as soon as the doors opened at 4 p.m. Peter Stefanuto, who owns the strip mall along Second Avenue, and the Home Hardware in the mall, said he liked the changes.
“It looks good – but it's too bad the sidewalks can't go all the way to Bancroft,” Stefanuto said. “But it's better than before. We need the lights to slow the traffic.”
What he's most worried about is the impact construction will have on his and his tenants' business.
“If (construction) is going to take all summer long, the businesses are going to suffer. I guarantee,” he said. “I hope my tenants are going to pull through.”
He likes the improved access to the cemetery and the dog park, too. But Lindsay said the five lanes at that intersection would force pedestrians to make too long a crossing, would encourage speeding on Second Avenue and is a waste of money.
“At one point, people will have to cross seven lanes, which I think is more than any other intersection in the city – for what is basically a residential area,” he said. “And I know the traffic people say the wider you build a road – like Barrydowne Road, like The Kingsway – the faster people will go, regardless of what speed limit you put on it.”
But David Shelsted, the city's director of roads, said this type of road widening is warranted along a roadway once traffic reaches around 12,000 vehicles a day. That section of Second Avenue currently handles 15,000 vehicles a day, he said, and there's much more residential construction planned for Minnow Lake in the future.
“When we're planning, we look at what traffic is on the road, and what traffic will be like in the future,” Shelsted said. “We're experiencing some congestion problems as it is now.”
The revised plan not only includes bike lanes and sidewalks on both sides, he said, it also includes a plan to extend the paved shoulders to close the gap between Kenwood and First Avenue. That means someone cycling up Bancroft will be able to turn onto Second and take the bike lane all the way to Donna Drive and the big box stores.
“That would connect you to a major commercial area,” Shelsted said. “But if we just do a short section, if you're a cyclist, connectivity is a big issue.”
However, revised the plan will cost more, and staff will ask city council at the April 29 meeting to approve the additional expense. Shelsted declined to say how much more money they'll need.
But Lindsay said the added costs could be covered by building a three-lane road instead of five lane. He disputes whether there's any congestion problems on Second Avenue.
“I've had way more problems on Bancroft with traffic,” he said. “But never Second Avenue. Never … So why (are) we putting this Kingsway-style super highway in the middle of a lot of residential development? It doesn't make sense.”
He also disputes the traffic counts reported by city staff, saying informal counts he's heard are far lower. While cities like Toronto are taking out lanes to slow traffic down, why is Sudbury going in the other direction, he wonders.
“I don't want to use the word 'dinosaur,' but it does require a quantum shift (by staff) in the way they think about managing traffic,” he said.
When asked if it's advisable for a city to decide the shape of its road network based on a plan from a volunteer group – rather than city roads engineers and experts -- Lindsay said technology has allowed them to gain a level of knowledge not previously possible.
“When they say they're the experts – with the Internet now, we're all experts, somewhat. We can access any amount of information we require,” he said. “So I think we should be setting a precedent. (CANs) have been shut out for years from giving input.”
While Lindsay says they want more time to discuss and revise the plan, Shelsted said time is ticking and the project is already behind schedule.
“That's partially due to the late spring,” he said. “But we haven't tendered the contract yet.”