Gaetz proposal ignored report

The scope of the proposed facelift has ignored a significant issue of public importance.

Re: Facelift on Gaetz (Red Deer Advocate: Oct. 8, 2010)

The scope of the proposed facelift has ignored a significant issue of public importance.

In January 2010, iTRANS Consulting of Calgary issued its report entitled 2009 Red Deer In-Service Road Safety Reviews to the City of Red Deer Engineering Department. iTRANS specializes in transportation planning, transportation safety, traffic engineering and related subjects. The consultant had been retained by the Traffic Engineering Department to conduct in-service road safety reviews at 10 Red Deer intersections that the city had identified as having a higher than expected number of collisions.

Two of the 10 intersections are in the stretch of Gaetz Avenue between 53rd Street and 46th Street that is the subject of the Gaetz Avenue Revitalization Report recently issued by ISL Engineering of Edmonton. Summary comments by iTRANS about those intersections include the following:

Gaetz Avenue and 52 Street:

• in the group of all unsignalized Red Deer intersections, the intersection was ranked seventh with respect to collision frequency

• about 40 per cent of the collisions occurred mid-day (9 a.m. to 3 p.m.)

• the majority of the collisions occurred in daylight and clear conditions

• about 80 per cent of the collisions resulted in personal injury.

Gaetz Avenue and Ross Street:

• in the group of all signalized Red Deer intersections, the intersection was ranked 12th with respect to collision frequency and fourth for collision rate

• about two-thirds of the collisions occurred mid-day

• the majority of the collisions occurred in daylight and clear conditions

• about seven per cent of the collisions resulted in personal injury.

Recent correspondence from ISL Engineering indicates that ISL did not have a copy of the iTRANS report; consequently, the Gaetz Avenue Revitalization Report does not address the significant traffic safety issues at intersections within the proposal area.

In addition, two other features of the ISL proposal will increase hazards to road users:

• locating angle parking spots such that an exiting vehicle must back onto a pedestrian crosswalk, a driving offence which results in two demerit points and a fine of $115

• the use of paving stones for crosswalks, which disregards Alberta Transportation’s guidelines and creates impediments and hazards for the visually impaired, for persons using walkers or wheelchairs, and for those on bicycles.

The correspondence from ISL indicates that the posted speed will be 30 km/h.

It is strange that ISL was commissioned to prepare an initial design that ignored the traffic safety issues and remedial measures identified in the iTRANS report.

The current proposal adds new hazards to road users. Coupled with the existing hazards and considering the anticipated increase in vehicular and pedestrian traffic, implementation of the proposal with its disregard for public safety may create a new reason for people to shun the downtown area. Considerable rework is necessary to overcome the present shortcomings.

It is hoped that the city council-to-be, in its capacity as the Red Deer road authority, will ensure that repeats of this situation will not occur during subsequent stages of downtown development.

Doug Taylor

Red Deer