Traffic study presents options for campus
There were few surprises in a study of the flow of vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians around campus – the bottlenecks and trouble spots are already well known. But according to a University planner, what the final report from ND LEA Engineers & Planners of Winnipeg does identify is a range of ideas and solutions to help smooth out the system.
Colin Hartl, who works in planning and development in the Facilities Management Division (FMD), said the year-long study “looked mostly at vehicle traffic and how that interacts with pedestrians and transit”. The study did not consider any roadwork proposed in the Core Area Master Plan but not yet in place, he said. Nor does it look at “pedestrian pathways other than where they intersect with roads. Instead, it looked more at what we have now, and how to use what we have in the short term and medium term.”
The $50,000 study was initiated as a sub-plan of the overarching Core Area Master Plan. It anticipates construction of the Academic Health Sciences complex and other future developments in that precinct of campus which, when complete, are expected to result in traffic increases. Those were considerations, he said, “but the fact is we wanted to look to some preliminary solutions and generate some general discussion”. Both the Master Plan and the traffic study “are idea books, guides to future growth and development”.
To illustrate the value of the study, Hartl pointed to one well-identifiable problem spot on campus – the intersection of Wiggins and Campus Drive. Hartl explained that after a close examination that including hiring local people to stand at the intersection and count cars, pedestrians and buses, the report offers a series of options that range from the simplest solution – adjusting the signage – to reconfiguring the intersection “to the ultimate solution which would be pedestrian and traffic signals”.
But deciding which solution to implement “is a little bit of an art because you’re not necessarily sure what people will do. There will be some pedestrians, for example, who will obey the signals from day one, but a phasing-in period might be necessary”. Every option, therefore, requires further study, but Hartl added safety is always the highest concern.
Because transit services and bus movement on campus was part of the study, Hartl said sustainability was a consideration. “You improve transit and, by default, you improve sustainability,” he said. “By making transit services better, you hopefully get more people to use them”.
In terms of implementing changes to improve traffic flow, ND LEA did make recommendations about what should be done first “and there has been an annual budget identified to begin to do some of these things”. He added the University will study the consultant’s recommendations and make its own assessment before proceeding, and the traffic study will become part of the University’s master planning reviews.
He also said the transportation study will eventually be made available online like the Core Area Master Plan.