Friday, March 26, 2010

Thoughts on Traffic Circles

It looks like traffic circles might be coming to Grande Prairie. Last week a reposrt was presented at the Public Works committee showing the plan for the east & west couplet projects.

The intent of the couplet is to move westbound traffic off off 100 Ave and up to 101 Ave. The idea is that this should create a better flow for traffic going through downtown to the west side f the city and at the same time allow 100 Ave to have two way traffic which would improve access to downtown stores. One of the challenges had been how to handle the transitions ... so the suggestion of traffic circles came up.

After the report was released there was of course some initial feedback including a letter to the editor which was dead set against traffic circles (you can read it here). But there have also started to be some positive coments like this email that was sent to council:

Dear City Aldermen

I read on Wednesday’s edition in the DHT that the city is considering adding traffic circles in the downtown area. Congratulation! That is a great step towards solving the traffic problems with in the city. I only hope that other parts of the city would also be considered for the traffic circles as well. For example, I think that the corner of Resources Road and 84th Avenue would work, and the corner of 68th Avenue and Poplar Drive would also be a great fit.

I recently spent 3 weeks in Great Britain and found that roundabouts were a perfect way of sorting traffic without the hassle of dealing with traffic lights. A true traffic circle doesn’t have lights and I hope that is the type that is being considered.

As well as freeing up the traffic they are friendlier on the environment, no stopping and starting, and no idling waiting for the lights to change. Not to mention the saving on the power and upkeep which goes to the traffic lights. You will also find that there will be no traffic running the lights before they change like they currently do, cutting down on the number of accidents in town thus cutting down on the number of responses by Police and Fire Departments, a further savings.

I lived in Peace River for 10 years and they had a five way intersection that no one liked, a couple of years ago Alberta Transportation changed the 5 way intersection to a traffic circle and friends of mine that still live there have said it has sped up traffic. I also phoned Town of Peace River and they told me they never received a single complaint about the change over.
I have lived here in Grande Prairie for over 50 years and this is the one thing that has me enthused enough to write to the council to voice my whole hearted approval.

Yours Truly
Randy Montgomery

Randy mentions Peace River and actually the experience there offers some tips on what to do as we move forward - things like "pamphlets explaining how to use the roundabout, a portable billboard on the subject and public meetings". Ultimately even after PR's circle was opened there was still some uneasiness from residents.

But, seeming to back up Randy's comments is this letter to the editor in the Peace River Record Gazette that says the traffic circle there is a great improvement over the old five-way intersection they used to have.

I wonder what the impression is from folks in PR is today - is the roundabout working? Have people become accustomed to it?

For more information on exactly what modern roundabouts are like check out the Province of Alberta information page on Roundabouts here

Let me know what you think of the plan.

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