Brandon City Council now has a roadmap for solving traffic issues on Braecrest Drive after the final report into changes to the road was presented to council on Monday evening.
The Braecrest Drive Functional Design Study proposes several improvements to the North Hill road to deal with speeding, pedestrian accessibility and the road’s intersection with 18th Street.
According to a report to city council, the total cost of the improvements is pegged at $6,353,100. The most expensive item is a roundabout at Braecrest Drive’s intersection with 18th Street at slightly more than $1.3 million. The costs will be shared with the provincial government.
Coun. Jeff Fawcett (Assiniboine) said before the meeting that this intersection is of the greatest concern among residents as it relates to Braecrest Drive.
In November 2016 an 84-year-old woman was killed at the intersection after the westbound SUV she was travelling in collided with a car going north on 18th Street.
Currently, there is a stop sign for drivers on Braecrest Drive crossing 18th Street to the other side of the road and a yield sign for westbound drivers on the road to merge onto 18th Street heading north.
The functional design study proposes a two-phase plan to improve the intersection. First, city traffic and transportation planner Samuel van Huizen said the plan recommends connecting Quail Ridge Drive and Mockingbird Drive with a new road. This will reduce the number of cars at the 18th Street intersection and buy the city time to implement the permanent solution: a new roundabout at the intersection of Braecrest Drive and 18th Street to deal with the challenges of navigating the crossing.
Despite the report classifying the roundabout as a long-term item, Fawcett said he hopes the city can act sooner. He also urged council when discussing the report to make the intersection improvements a priority
"What became more apparent during our public discussions was how many people avoid (the intersection), simply just don’t use it because they’re uncomfortable with the intersection," Fawcett said.
The city looked at adding traffic lights, but van Huizen said there are traction issues because of how steep 18th Street is in the area. A roundabout also means trucks will have to stop every three to five minutes, rather than every 60 seconds with traffic lights.
The study, which was prepared by engineering firm WSP Group, took resident feedback from several open houses into account, van Huizen said, adding that it’s a collaboration between the city, Manitoba Infrastructure and Assiniboine Community College.
In the short term, it lays out pedestrian crossings at Quail Ridge Drive and Lark Street and sidewalk connections on the north side of the street from Lark Street to Daly Crescent and Bluebird Street to First Street North. It also outlines a new roadway connection from Quail Ridge Drive to Mockingbird Drive and relocating the northbound bus stop on 18th Street north of Braecrest Drive.
In addition to a roundabout at 18th Street and Braecrest Drive, the report also recommends one at Braecrest Drive’s intersection with Daly Crescent.
It also recommends restricted access to Assiniboine Community College at Braecrest Drive and First Street North.
In terms of active transportation, it lays out a pathway connection on the south side of Braecrest Drive from Kensington Crescent to First Street North and a multi-use pathway on First Street North from Kirkcaldy Drive to Braecrest Drive.
While the report outlines recommendations for Braecrest Drive and future plans for the street, the improvements can be tweaked or changed depending on future development in the area. The study was scheduled to be submitted to city council in August, but van Huizen said it was delayed until October because of scheduling conflicts.
Fawcett said he is confident the report’s recommendations will address most of the concerns residents have with the east-west corridor. He said the 400-plus-page report is even more thorough than he thought it would be.
"Through the process, we found there was no perfect solution and that became quite apparent. So it was a matter of looking at the best options that were going to be available to us," he said.
During the meeting, Coun. Kris Desjarlais (Rosser) asked when the recommendations would be implemented. Van Huizen said specific years were not referenced in the report, but it allows council to add the Braecrest Drive improvements to short- and long-term capital budgets.
Coun. Shaun Cameron (University) abstained from the vote because of his work at Assiniboine Community College.
The recommendations still have to be allocated for in next year’s and future budgets. The city’s engineering department has to plan a schedule for when the work will happen.
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