During a November Committee of the Whole meeting, the committee directed administration to research and inform council, during the Dec. 17 regular meeting of council, about the feasibility and cost of placing a roundabout at the John Morris Way (JMW) and West Chestermere Drive (WCD) intersection.
Based on the land acquisition needs, and the potential for unknown costs, a single lane roundabout that would fit within the existing road right of way was estimated at $500,000, while a signalized intersection was at estimated at $300,000.
“Due to the constraints, a single lane round-about can fit in the existing road right of way and still accommodate the appropriate turning radius that is needed for trucks,” said Infrastructure Team Lead Paul Saik.
“The single-lane approach does fit, the implications are that you have to take WCD from a two-lane road each way and narrow it to a one-lane,” he said.
He added, “Single Lane roundabout advantages for pedestrian safety are that the traffic and the pedestrian locations are smoother, and vehicle safety no longer has the collision type, it’s reduced to a sideswipe collision.”
Deputy Mayor Yvette Kind was not in support of implementing a roundabout at the intersection of JMW and WCD.
“That’s a very high pedestrian intersection during lakefront events, how are pedestrians going to be crossing, I see that being more problematic than being safe,” Kind said.
“The pedestrian crossing is changed, and it will be something different for residents to get used to,” Saik said.
While a dual-lane roundabout would not fit within the current road right of way, additional impacts of implementing a two-lane roundabout are the upgrades that are required on JMW.
“Right now, that road is single lane, you need to accommodate two lanes, so the road needs to be widened,” Saik said.
“The limitations you have is the outside lane of the roundabout can only go to the quarter, or to the half if you limit that coming on JMW, you’re actually tampering with the functionality of that intersection,” he said.
Adding, “The cost estimate is over $500,000. It’s really not looked at as a viable option.”
The performance and functionality of a roundabout perform better with lower volumes of traffic. No one is waiting at a stop sign or a traffic light, and they can enter and exit the intersection with greater efficiency.
However, there are negative aspects of implementing a roundabout.
“The issue then is that traffic in the dominate direction, which would be WCD, essentially blocks access to the intersection. The wait times coming off of JMW would be worse in the peak time,” Saik said.
“There is a trade-off in functionality with the roundabout,” he said.
According to Alberta Transportation, there have been 45 collisions at the JMW and WCD intersection from 2005 to 2018, seven of which resulted in injuries.
“Looking at the two options that council has been considering, we’ve been consistently advised by our traffic engineers, we’re in the 80 per cent use of that intersection,” said Mayor Marshall Chalmers.
“We’ve been consistently advised the position we should be looking at is monitoring. I’m not so sure that any of the solutions brought forward isn’t going to cause additional problems,” he said.
“I agree with the administration we take the position of monitoring at this point in time,” Chalmers added. “There are two separate issues here, there’s functionality, and there’s safety.”
However, Deputy Mayor Kind does not agree that monitoring the intersection is the best option.
“I don’t support monitoring this. We’ve all known that this is a problem. I don’t support being reactive when we have a problem, we know it’s an issue,” Kind said.
“It’s not a matter of how long you have to wait to turn the corner, it’s a matter of having some order there and safety in place,” she said.
Following the JMW and WCD roundabout presentation, Councillor Mel Foat wanted to make a motion to immediately install four stop signs at the intersection for a period of one year.
“I will not support the motion. We’ve already been presented with statistics indicating that this intersection isn’t as much of an issue as other intersections,” Chalmers said.
“To me, we should do a traffic safety audit first, so we know if four-way stops are the way to go,” he said.
“I don’t think safety and functionally are separate issues,” said Councillor Michelle Young.
“The lack of functionality at an intersection, or a cause to make people wait, either pedestrian’s or the people driving are in a hurry which then causes the safety problem. They very much go together,” she said.
“It is a safety issue. At certain times of the day, there’s no way you’re going to come out of JMW and make a left-hand turn. Everybody has to turn right,” Foat said.
He added, the topic could be brought into a public consultation, so council could hear what Chestermere residents want.
“If the residents don’t want it, then we don’t put it in,” Foat said.
After going in camera, Foat withdrew the motion to immediately place four stop signs at the JMW and WCD intersection.
Council received the JMW and WCD intersection presentation for information.