A consultant’s report as part of a high-level county-wide transportation network study shows several major roads, including some in Centre Wellington, are expected to exceed capacity by 2041.
The study, as part of the County of Wellington’s Road Master Action Plan (RMAP) which identifies long-term needs to 2041, identified five roads that will exceed capacity by 2041 and two that are approaching capacity by the same time period.
At Tuesday’s roads committee meeting, consultants explained sections of road expected to exceed capacity are:
Wellington Road 21 between Wellington Road 7 and the Waterloo boundary and Wellington Road 86 on the edge of Mapleton are expected to approach capacity.
Consultant Dennis Kar said the study takes into consideration the high population and employment growth up to 2041 when considering capacity constraints on the road system.
“Primarily along Wellington Road 7 through Elora and Fergus between (Wellington Roads) 21 and 43 and south through Puslinch connecting Guelph to Highway 401,” Kar said.
Consultant Paul Bumstead explained strategies they looked at include reducing vehicle use, optimizing current infrastructure and expanding or creating new infrastructure.
The consultants said the first option wouldn’t likely work as about 90 per cent of travel in Wellington County is by a car driver or passenger.
In the case of Wellington Road 7, the recommendation is to add an additional left turn lane which would take these vehicles out of the travel lane to keep good traffic flow.
This was also recommended for Wellington Road 18 along with redesigning and urbanizing nearby side streets.
Coun. Jeff Duncan asked for clarification on over-capacity whether it meant total gridlock traffic or if a road can’t be traveled at reasonable time based on what the speed limit would suggest it could be.
“The definition of over-capacity makes a big deal because we’re going to face major capital (spending) potential projects on,” Duncan said.
Bumstead said in their view anything 10 per cent over capacity would be a “failure of the system.”
“There’s definitely unreliability in the system, there are areas where you would have significant issues, driver impatience and diversion of the network to roads that are not meant to carry county traffic,” Bumstead said.
Warden Kelly Linton agreed with Duncan and asked if they could be sure to be more descriptive about over-capacity in the final report.
“If there’s any kind of description or diagram that can demonstrate the negative impacts of roads system that is experiencing over-capacity, I think that’s going to be very critical in order for us to justify funding,” Linton said, adding the master plan process is high-level with more detailed reports and studies to follow.
“This is a tough one, the decisions we’re going to have to make as we grow are tough.”
Council accepted the report for information.
There will be a virtual public meeting on the evening of June 17 about the ongoing RMAP study. More information on how to join and other reports can be found here.
Keegan Kozolanka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com