NORTH PERTH – In response to a delegation that made a presentation to North Perth council last September with concerns about traffic on Wallace Avenue South, the municipality had Paradigm Transportation Solutions Limited conduct a traffic study to see what would be the best way to address the issue.
Gene Chartier, senior consultant, and Heather Hector, a transportation engineer at Paradigm, presented the results of the study and recommendations at a public meeting held on June 29.
“The delegation had requested the installation of an all-ways stop control at Wallace Avenue and Krotz Street to help mitigate speeding and increase pedestrian safety,” said Hector.
The study focused on the area of Wallace Avenue extending from Anger Street in the north to Line 84 in the south, specifically the intersections at Krotz, Armstrong and Hutton streets.
Although the municipality is already considering changing the classification of Wallace Avenue South to a collector road which will allow more traffic calming options, at the time of the study it was classified as an arterial road.
“The municipality collected speed data before the pandemic in 2019,” said Hector. “The 85th percentile speed from Anger to Hutton was 47 km/h, in the middle section 55 to 57 km/h and then in the southern section, the undeveloped area 69 km/h.”
The traffic volume decreased travelling south ranging from 3,274 vehicles per day at the north end of the traffic study do to just over 2,000 at the south.
The first thing checked in the study was the warrant for an all-way stop.
“I just want to note that the purpose of a stop sign is to assign right-of-way between vehicles approaching an intersection,” said Hector. “All-way stops should not be used to protect pedestrians, particularly school children, as a speed-control device or as a means of deterring through traffic in a residential area.
“So we can see here that what the delegation has requested is not necessarily the best option for this location but we wanted to check just to make sure it wasn’t warranted at this location.”
Based on the existing traffic volumes it was deemed that the all-way stop was not warranted at the intersection of Wallace Avenue and Krotz Street. So the focus of the study became traffic-calming measures that would help mitigate the concerns of residents. Hector listed common traffic-calming methods; reducing speed limits, reducing traffic volumes, discouraging short-cutting through the neighbourhood, improve livability such as adding measures that encourage walking and cycling and reducing conflicts between roadway users.
She pointed out that traffic-calming measures also have disadvantages.
“One of the main disadvantages is the increased emergency vehicle response time and transit times,” said Hector. “This is likely due to vertical deflection measures such as speed humps… or trying to reduce their speeds.”
Some traffic calming measures can also reduce accessibility to neighbourhoods for vehicles, divert traffic or speeding concerns on to other roads, increase maintenance costs, increase vehicle emissions, and sometimes they can be visually unattractive or cause noise pollution.
Hector said the change of designation of Wallace Avenues South from an arterial road to a collector road, which the municipality is already in the process of doing, will open up more traffic calming options than were available in the past.
Next in the study, Paradigm looked at where a protective pedestrian crossing could be placed on Wallace Avenue South.
“I know there is already a school crossing provided at Hutton Street,” she said. “That’s only a crossing available when the school crossing guard is present. So (we’re) looking at something that would be there 24 hours a day without the need for a crossing guard.”
Based on the vehicle counts collected, a pedestrian crossover (PXO) level two type C is warranted on Wallace Avenue at the corner of Krotz Street on the north side. This PXO would include signs with rectangular rapid flashing beacons and ladder pavement markings.
“So if you were a pedestrian you would come up to this, you would press the button to activate the flashing beacon and vehicles would have to stop for you while you are crossing,” said Hector. “This provides a direct connection out to Tremaine Street where there is (St. Mary’s) Catholic School.”
She said the PXO is far enough from the crossing at Hutton Street because it is not good to have them too close together.
She then outlined four recommended steps for a traffic calming plan for Wallace Avenue South: Painting centre line markings from Anger Street to Line 84; painting edge line paving marking on the sides of the road providing an opportunity for bike lanes from Anger Street to Line 84; installation of the recommended PXO at the corner of Krotz Street; and pavement marking to create a gore area at the south side of the island at Krotz Street.
“At Krotz Street, the road is quite wide and there is not a delineation of the lanes so this will help narrow the lanes at that section and ensure that drivers are staying within their lanes in that area,” said Hector.
The municipality will be accepting feedback from residents until July 31 at www.yoursaynorthperth.com/tmpstudy or by email at email@example.com.
After the feedback is reviewed the plan will be presented to North Perth council for approval.
“We were quite pleased with the option that came forward as a PXO,” said North Perth Manager of Operations, Lyndon Kowch. “We’ve been working… as a community to upgrade PXOs throughout Listowel and are looking at several more to be installed in the next… two years.”
He said PXOs are something that the public is now familiar with and will be consistent with the rest of the municipality so both people will know what to expect when they get there.
“This one does have the illuminations of the flashing strobes so it gives that much more indication that they are crossing and just to be cautious and to stop,” said Kowch.
It is hoped the PXO can be installed by September when kids return to school.
One resident attending the meeting said he liked the plan but noted some residents do not press the button at PXOs.
“This would be an education component,” said Hector. “Sharing information with residents to ensure that they know how to use a crossing. I’ve seen on a number of PXOs where there is a little sign that gives you instructions and additionally street lighting in the area would help drivers be able to see people at night crossing.”
Kowch added that because the schools and transportation companies are involved he could talk to the school boards about an education program.
“Just so that the children using the crossing know and they can bring that information home – maybe even a hard copy as an introduction to the lights,” he said.
Kowch admitted he shares this concern because when the PXOs were introduced downtown there were issues with pedestrians not pressing the buttons.
“I still see people not using them,” he said. “This is a great opportunity to talk about it.”
According to Kowch, the transportation master plan which should be ready by the end of the year, will look at several different traffic corridors throughout the municipality, but he said this study was a good example of how the plan will focus on specific areas.
“It’s going to be a bit of a model for us as we move forward and address concerns in other areas in Listowel, Atwood and Monkton,” he said.
Colin Burrowes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Listowel Banner