Niverville council seeks public input on Highway 311 development
Niverville’s town council is hosting a series of open houses in the hopes of gathering public feedback on the future design and buildout of intersections along Highway 311.
The first open house took place in the evening of February 21 and the second and final open house is scheduled for February 23 between 4:00–7:00 p.m. on the second floor of the Community Resource and Recreation Centre.
The section of highway under consideration is a one mile stretch between Krahn Road and Wallace Road.
Last fall, council approved a rezoning request made by Sunset Estates which would change 130 acres of land at the corner of Highway 311 and Wallace Road from Agricultural Limited to Commercial Corridor.
In the anticipation of potential development on both sides of the highway, council hopes to take a proactive approach in resolving any safety concerns posed by increases in traffic.
To do so, council has contracted the services of engineers at Morrison Hershfield, who set to the task of developing a traffic impact analysis by which important decisions will be made.
“This is a provincial highway and there are a lot of requirements for studying the traffic generated from a development like this,” says James Kennedy of Morrison Hershfield. “This development will have different types of land uses that will generate different types of traffic as well.”
Based on the analysis, three concept drawings were created, each one looking at a slightly different scenario for existing and new intersections to be added along this route.
In all three options, there are two recurring features. First, there will be no service road on the south side running adjacent to the highway, similar to Drovers Run to the east.
Second, a new intersection, controlled by a roundabout or traffic circle, appears in all three sketches at the halfway point between Krahn and Wallace Roads.
As for service roads such as Drover’s Run, Kennedy says they are simply a bad idea, especially when the service road is built in such close proximity to the highway.
The reason, he says, is that it creates multiple busy intersections within a small space, resulting in traffic going every which way, all the time.
Regarding the highway roundabout, Kennedy says that they are being integrated into traffic designs on a much greater scale these days.
“In the city of Winnipeg, a lot of developers are putting in roundabouts now,” says Kennedy. “The province is also starting to put more in. They are safer, overall, compared to a signalized intersection.”
They are safer, he explains, because they produce far fewer traffic conflict points, or accident opportunities. According to Morrison Hershfield, a roundabout has a mere eight conflict points as opposed to a four-way signalled intersection, which can have up to 32 conflict points.
Another advantage to the roundabout along Highway 311 is that it would act as a natural speed reducer for eastbound commuters entering town limits.
“It gets people transitioning from a high-speed highway into a more urban environment, so it’s kind of a nice place to put it,” Kennedy says.
Option one of the conceptual drawings shows intersections at Krahn Road, Wallace Road, and the new midway intersection. The intersection at Krahn Road would allow for only right turns onto the highway from either direction.
Phase two of this scenario could include the rebuilding of Highway 311 into a four-lane motorway and installing traffic lights at both the Krahn and Wallace Road intersections.
Option two would consider the closure of the north side of Krahn Road, with only right turns being allowed where the south side of Krahn Road meets the highway.
Phase two of this option, again, would consider a four-lane restructuring with eventual traffic lights at both Krahn and Wallace.
The third and final option would see the complete closure of the intersection at Wallace Road. Krahn Road would remain open from all directions and a four-way traffic signal installed.
Phase two of this scenario would look the same, apart from the inclusion of a four-lane highway.
Kennedy says that option three resonates the most, for a number of reasons. Wallace Road also acts as the town’s dike, protecting residents from potential floodwaters to the west. As a raised dike, he says, it is under provincial jurisdiction and the likelihood of it ever being paved is slim.
As well, a property allowance containing a drainage ditch runs the length of Wallace Road on the Niverville side. Finding ways to connect streets across this ditch to Wallace Road could be costly and difficult for the town to undertake.
At the close of the two open house sessions, Kennedy says that his team will compile all of the input received from residents and make a recommendation to town council regarding the preferred option.
Mayor Myron Dyck says that the timeline for highway restructuring will be dependent on the developers on either side of the highway in terms of how quickly they develop their parcels of land.
“Doing this now at least puts the concept in place so that at such a time as we get [developer buildout], the work is already done and prepared,” says Dyck.
Cornell Friesen of Fifth Avenue Estates owns the section to the north of Highway 311 and Len Peters of Sunset Estates owns the property to the south. Peters is the same developer who is being The Highlands to the east.
It is anticipated that lots will be developed on both sides of the highway with commercial and residential options available.
Residents wishing to provide input on the Highway 311’s restructuring can find comment sheets available during the February 23 open house. If someone is unable to attend, they can email their comments to email@example.com.
, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Niverville Citizen