Monday, November 19, 2012

Increasing Pedestrian Safety on Pelham Street

What should we do to help increase pedestrian safety on Pelham Street?

A couple of years ago, parents from Glynn A. Green School implored Council to increase the safety of children walking to and from school along Pelham Street. They highlighted traffic counts that estimated that 10,000 vehicles drove past the school every weekday. They also reminded Council about a woman who was tragically killed +12 years ago while she jogged on the road’s gravel shoulder.

Council reacted swiftly. We approved a new traffic signal at Port Robinson to calm traffic and to help pedestrians cross; we approved a new sidewalk from Elizabeth to Brock Street (on the west side of Pelham); we approved an engineering study for the reconstruction of Pelham Street from Port Robinson to Quaker; and we earmarked $2.5 million in future budgets (starting at $1.5 million in 2013) for the road’s reconstruction – including sidewalks, curbs, new storm sewers, and new water lines.

After completing the first two items, staff asked Council whether Pelham Street from College to Port Robinson should also be reconstructed; if so, staff suggested that new bikelanes be installed in that section (to fulfill the Region’s bikeways Master Plan) and that the hydro lines be buried. The estimated cost was an additional $400,000 and Council agreed.

When the engineering design and construction estimate came back this fall at $6.5 million – two-and-a-half times more than the estimate – all were surprised and disheartened. This work would consume all of the $2 million (on average) that we invest each year in major road projects.

Given that staff believes the road surface remains in great shape, staff began looking at alternatives.

What about following the new design but install only the sidewalk now? The new sidewalk would have been installed at a different level than the current land’s contours, impeded storm water flow, and obstructed future storm sewers and waterlines.

On November 6, staff suggested a couple of solutions for an estimated $150,000:

  • install a traffic signal at Pancake to help ease traffic flow and make it easier for pedestrians to cross;
  • install rumble strips along the both sides of the existing road surface (like on the edge of the QEW) to warn drivers to stay off the shoulder.
  • install a 1.5 metre asphalt strip on both sides of the road for pedestrians and cyclists.

Council will review these suggestions during our Capital Budget meeting on Monday, November 26; I hope you will provide your suggestions and feedback to Council and me before that discussion.