Council grants traffic changes for Southpointe Junction

Drivers will be able to get into a mixed-use development along Taylor Driver on Red Deer’s south side much easier.

Drivers will be able to get into a mixed-use development along Taylor Driver on Red Deer’s south side much easier.

But they’ll face more traffic signals because of it.

City council granted Qualico Developments its request on Monday to change the south access between 19th Street and 22nd Street. Drivers will now have an all-turns intersection of three lights leading into Southpointe Junction instead of having right in, right out only.

The mix of housing, commercial and office space will be developed on the west side of Taylor, north of 19th Street and south of Red Deer College.

Qualico reported a prospective major anchor tenant would only come to the area if there was a south access for all turns. Red Deer College also supported the change since it would be the most direct route to the proposed future development on college lands.

“Without approval Qualico may be required to redesign the (Neighbourhood Area Structure Plan) which has been developed to meet a variety of objectives including the preservation of the Bower Natural Area and the development of mixed use and innovative high density housing,” says a staff report.

Council also endorsed making sure the developer would pay for this revised intersection.

As a condition of this intersection approval, the developer has committed to stay in close touch with the city over any upgrades that need to occur along Taylor Drive.

Alberta Transportation would also be asked to approve the revised plan of the south access since it’s revisiting changes with regards to its accesses around Hwy 2.

Coun. Tara Veer endorsed the changes, but she had some reservations about compromising the traffic flow along Taylor Drive.

City design guidelines report that intersection spacing along arterials should be 400 to 800 m. Qualico’s all-turns intersection will come in at 250 to 300 m.

“Our community often expresses concern for start and stop traffic,” said Veer.

Veer said it was important to recognize the college needed south access. Plus, the city needs to “substantially improve some of the workings with the business community.”

“Sometimes if we make access so difficult then they could potentially locate elsewhere,” said Veer.

Veer also said it was very important to protect the Bower Natural Area as the public vehemently called for during public hearings.

“A significant component of that was not allowing road access completely through the trees,” she said.

Almost 17 acres of the Bower Natural Area will be preserved and maintained, plus pathways will be expanded through the area.

Veer said she’d like to see a major ring road to the west of Hwy 2 one day.

“Taylor Drive has evolved and is no longer functioning as a major thoroughfare,” she said.

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