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Council narrows options for Highway 97 intersection

City council chose not to hire an independent traffic engineer and to go with Option One for the Highway 97 upgrade of intersections at Carson Drive and Toop Road, during its regular meeting Tuesday.

At its Dec. 17 meeting, council received a report in which staff recommended Option Two.

Instead of making a decision, however, council directed staff to bring a report to council in early January outlining the costs associated with engaging the services of an independent traffic engineer to review all documents and options associated with the project in regards to the effects they may have as they apply to traffic and pedestrian safety and the access and egress of city frontage streets.

The request was driven by a citizens committee who told council it felt the city needed an independent analysis before making any decisions.

During the December meeting, Mayor Kerry Cook and Coun. Danica Hughes voted against the motion, while the rest of council was in favour.

On Tuesday evening, however, Cook, Hughes, councillors Laurie Walters and Sue Zacharias voted against hiring an independent traffic engineer while councillors Ivan Bonnell and Surinderpal Rathor voted in favour.

After the vote Rathor said he was disappointed with council’s choice not to go with hiring the independent engineer.

“To me we’re not showing leadership to the community. We wasted a month. We could have done this last month on Dec. 17,” Rathor said.

All of council, however, voted in favour of pursuing Option One.

“I don’t think Option One is perfect, but I am suggesting we move forward, refer it to staff to bring a report back to council with the next steps and suggested revisions,” Mayor Kerry Cook said before council voted. “I think we have enough information and feedback and have narrowed it down. I think it’s important we continue to narrow it down in one direction, recognizing that we need to make sure it’s well thought out.”

On Thursday Coun. Sue Zacharias said after reading all the material and rereading the reports and submissions that were handed in about the options, Option Two, which tied into Johnson Street, clearly was not an option.

“If you read the petition handed in by the citizens committee Option One clearly came through as the preferred choice,” Zacharias said.

Zacharias said she changed her mind about hiring an independent engineer after she started thinking about the time and expense.

General manager of planning and operations Geoff Goodall said staff will have a report ready for the COW meeting on Feb. 4.

Bonnell said he hoped citizens will have the opportunity to address council prior to council making any final decision.

Option One is considered the ‘base comparison’ because it essentially maintains traffic patterns as they are today, but with modern, improved geometry that will vastly improve safety and usability, the city stated in a press release Wednesday.

“Though the Highway 97 traffic lights are moving up to Toop/11th from Carson Drive, the routes, turning options, and local connections on and off the highway stay the same with two exceptions:  drivers cannot access Broadway Avenue at Carson Drive location and cannot turn left northbound from Carson Drive onto the highway.”

Pedestrian patterns will change with Option 1, but not significantly, the city said. Crossing at Toop would be provided at the lights rather than the old underpass, and crossing at Carson would be handled by the new underpass.

 

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