The City of Red Deer will create another major traffic circle in 2022 — this time at 40 Ave. and 19 St.
Since the city’s two roundabouts on 67 Ave. are viewed by motorists as having varying degrees of success, Red Deerians will be surveyed on what they like — and don’t like — about traffic circle design.
Before council approved a $22 million road reconstruction of a portion of 19 St. on Monday, Coun. Tanya Handley said she hopes public survey will be done soon, so that the results will be factored in before the new roundabout is built next year at 19 St. and 40 Ave.
Engineering services manager Konrad Dunbar sought, and received approval from council, for a multi-year capital budget (2022/2023) of $22,395,000.
It covers the reconstruction of 19 St., from Irwin Street to Gaetz Avenue, the construction of a roundabout at the intersection of 19 St. and 40 Ave., and the construction of a multi-use trail along the north side of 19 St.
This project had been initially discussed during 2021-22 capital budget deliberations, but it was tabled until additional information could be provided to council on the effectiveness and public feedback of current roundabouts.
Dunbar told council on Monday that Red Deerians generally preferred the traffic circle at 30 Ave. and 67 St. over the one at Johnstone Drive and 67. He said the main difference is that the latter roundabout controls four equally busy traffic directions, while the other has largely two-way traffic flow.
Dunbar admitted many local motorists need more familiarity with on how traffic circles work.
He likened the directional traffic flow at 40 and 19 to be like 30 Ave. and 67 St., as most vehicles are headed in two directions.
Council was told a roundabout would solve the traffic delays and safety issues at 40 Ave. and 19 St. — the No. 1 spot for serious accident collisions in the city, based on the amount of traffic it gets, said Dunbar.
According to city traffic data, the intersection has insufficient capacity to deal with all of the vehicles going through it at peak times of day. This is causing safety concerns, delays and congestion, said Dunbar.
He noted that changing traffic light signals could only handle increased vehicle capacity for only three to five more years, so a traffic circle would be the most efficient, cost-effective longer-term solution.
Work is expected to start in 2022. City engineers consider it a priority, said Dunbar, who showed council photos of severe road cracking on 19 St. A complete rebuild is needed at that spot because of “extensive deterioration” of the underlying soils, he added.
The new roundabout is estimated to cost about $8 million, while the road re-build is anticipated to cost $13.4 million. The 850-metre hiking trail is estimated at $1 million.
Coun. Vesna Higham expressed concerned about the high cost of the roundabout and trail, and suggested tabling the matter until more number crunching can be done.
But the majority of councillors felt there’s no time to delay the project further, given the time needed for planning and the cracked state of 19 St.
Coun. Michael Dawe said he’s satisfied with Dunbar’s explanation that any money put aside for the project and not used will go back into city coffers or towards loan repayment.