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Traffic analysis yields council discussion

By: Grant Burr

Posted: 01/9/2019 9:15 AM

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Want a bypass built around Steinbach? Maybe you've already found one.

A huge increase in traffic on Old Tom Road was one of the highlights of the city's annual traffic analysis report, discussed at a city council committee meeting on Tuesday.

City engineer Phil Kalyta pointed council to increased use of Industrial Road, Park Road and Old Tom as evidence of drivers finding new routes through the city. That's good news, he suggested, because traffic along Highway 12 continues to increase anyway.

The paving of Old Tom Road in 2016 has had its expected effect, Kalyta surmised. Traffic volumes between 2017 and 2018 increased 111 percent.

The huge traffic increase could accelerate the deterioration of the road, he acknowledged, and prompt a more significant redevelopment of the roadway in the future. One smaller improvement planned more immediately will be to address visibility with street lights installations at the intersection of Park Road and Old Tom Road, he shared. More extensive changes might wait until further development occurs in the area, he said, noting there is potential for a large development east of Old Tom Road.

The city's intersection at Loewen Boulevard and Highway 12 was highlighted as one the city's biggest traffic headaches. The report pointed out eastbound traffic at that intersection experienced a 454 second wait. The numbers were gathered during peak traffic periods between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. in October. Intersection redevelopment at Loewen and Highway 12, which Kalyta said is scheduled for 2022, is projected to improve traffic flows significantly.

Four crosswalk changes recommended

The report's analysis also suggested controlled pedestrian crossings along Highway 12 at Millwork Drive/Stone Bridge Crossing as well as at Friesen Avenue/Woodhaven Avenue should be considered. Along Highway 52, a controlled crossing at Lund Road and an upgrade to the current crosswalk at Kroeker Avenue were also recommended.

While the report suggested a controlled crossing at Millwork Drive/Stone Bridge Crossing was needed as a connection point for Steinbach Christian School students, Councillor Susan Penner disagreed.

"The more logical place is Campus Drive," said Penner, who noted her children attend the school, where she is also employed.

Kalyta suggested, while not impossible, upgrades at Campus Drive would require a complete intersection redesign. Still, Penner maintained it was a better choice since many students cross directly at that point on the highway, rather than at existing pedestrian crossings to the north and south.

"The school should just buy a Slurpee machine. That might take care of it," she quipped.

The necessity of a Friesen/Woodhaven Avenue crossing was also questioned. In the past it has been seen as possibility because of its proximity to seniors housing in the area.

"How many seniors are actually walking?" wondered Councillor Bill Hiebert.

Fellow councillor, Michael Zwaagstra, noted to Hiebert that improvements at that intersection have been suggested by HavenGroup in the past.

No yielding on this one

Some councillors took the opportunity at Tuesday's meeting to press for more minor traffic control matters.

Councillor Jake Hiebert told Kalyta that a stop sign near the Timber Falls gas station, which he said slows traffic exiting from Southland Church, should be changed to a yield sign instead.

"That's not the right use of a yield," Kalyta replied, suggesting some sort of reconfiguration of the side road would be a better alternative to allow traffic to cue up facing the newly operational traffic lights at the Industrial Road intersection.

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