Traffic Advisory Report lays out roadmap for improvement

by Colin Smith

Speeding, signage, crosswalks, parking and safety continue to be the major issues for Morinville’s Traffic Advisory Committee. The committee’s 2014 Traffic and Pedestrian Safety Report will be presented by Town Council Tuesday night.

According to the report, released Friday as part of the public Council agenda package, last year was a busy one for the committee, with a large number of projects completed and many more in the works.

The report declares that excessive speeds continue to be a problem in Morinville, as indicated by data collected by traffic counters and enforcement efforts, including photo radar. Town Peace Officers have issued tickets for violators travelling 102 and 106 kilometres per hour on local neighborhood roads that have a 50 km/h limit.

Last year saw the purchase and implementation of two portable speed display signs for Enforcement Services to use. The signs are designed to capture traffic data, as well as display traffic speeds. They are now being deployed on a complaint and as needed basis. Development of a measurable program is planned for this year.

Inconsistency in the way that traffic signage has been installed in Morinville was identified as a problem in a 2014 study done by Urban Systems, which also included a playground and schoolyard review. The firm has made recommendations for signage changes to reduce traffic risk.

Concerns expressed by Morinville Public School resulted in creation of a signed no-stopping zone on 101A Street close to a main drop-off area for attending students.

The report notes continuing issues with crosswalks as reflected in information collected at various open houses, many public inquiries, and observations made by Traffic Advisory Committee members.
Changes have been made as a result, including making crosswalks more visible or relocating crosswalks to an area that further encourages its use so as to make roadways safer for all.

Further measures, including traffic calming, education campaigns to promote higher crosswalk use compliance, and the establishment of a crosswalk implementation standard are under consideration.

Parking is constant issue, the report indicates. Particular concerns include main travel routes, including 100 Street and 100 Avenue, intersection sightline visibility, commercial vehicles, school drop off zones during peak times, parking on private property and industrial park service roads.

Although the number of collisions in the community is up over 2012 statistics, the accident rate per driver has gone down because of the extent to which the volume of traffic on local roadways has increased.

Photo Enforcement referenced

Use of photo radar to enforce speed limits was a major issue in 2014. A petition campaign the previous year lead to the Apr. 14 plebiscite on discontinuing photo radar. That vote failed by a narrow margin.

After the defeat of the petition plebiscite, operations staff drafted a new photo enforcement policy for Town Council to consider. Council approved the policy with amendments at their Jan. 27 meeting.

“Once this policy is put in place it will provide the vision and direction for operations to oversee and use photo enforcement technology within Morinville to help achieve safety goals,” states the report.

It adds that the petition campaign generated an opportunity to engage residents and hear their concerns, as well as creating the opportunity to educate and increase awareness about traffic tools and overall safety.

Safety awareness campaigns and projects the committee will be looking at in 2015 include a 100 Street functional plan, coordinated efforts with Alberta Transportation for Highway 642, a parking study and commercial vehicle planning and routing. Reviewing the Traffic Master Plan (known as the Town of Morinville Transportation Plan Nov 2004) will also come under discussion.

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