The Parking Task Force met with Tony Chelick, operations manager from Alberta Transportation and Jay Magus, senior project manager from iTrans, the consulting company which carried out the traffic flow analysis, in a public meeting on Wednesday, March 24 at Town Hall.
The meeting was set up to discuss the traffic flow problem on 3rd Avenue and the options available to reduce the problems caused by increased traffic without having to introduce parallel parking on 3rd Avenue.
Task Force chair, Barry Fullerton presented an overview to the invited parties of the questions the Task Force had on the two intersections on Highway 9, the first one being the 2nd Avenue intersection, as well as the 3rd Avenue one.
iTrans explained they carried out a study directed by the town in 2006/2007. Following the study and a collision review, a consensus was reached the bridge structure would not be widened and, to accommodate pedestrians on the bridge, the left hand turn southbound should be removed.
Provincial highways have certain standards that they strive for and, to control traffic in an organized way, intersection spacing on highways needs to be 400 metres. iTrans therefore looked at the intersections on 2 Avenue, 3rd Avenue and Railway Avenue W.
To adhere to Alberta Transportation’s requirements, iTrans carried out a field investigation on 2nd Avenue, a public meeting and traffic counts analysis.
iTrans then recommended to close the left hand turn and straight through from 2nd Avenue westbound as well as eastbound.
iTrans and Alberta Transportation explained that leaving this intersection open on 2 Avenue would also create a safety issue.
As traffic increases, it would get harder to turn left from 2 Avenue onto the highway and drivers would start taking more risks, causing what is called an intersection failure.
The meeting then moved on to the traffic lights at 3rd Avenue.
The Task Force proposed changing the lights to give vehicles turning left on to the highway an advanced turn, introducing a split phasing light for westbound traffic. iTrans and Alberta Transportation explained that there would need to be two lanes on 3rd Avenue to enable this.
The Task Force suggested two lanes could be created by putting parallel parking on the north side of the road from 1st Street West to Highway 9, leaving angle parking on the other side of the road.
iTrans explained this may not be possible but they will be doing a traffic flow analysis, using a synchro analysis software, on the various scenarios to include a second lane on 3rd Avenue, keeping the maximum angle and/or parallel parking possible. They will be reporting back to the Task Force for next week’s meeting.
Alberta Transportation confirmed that changes could be made on 3rd Avenue as long as they did not negatively impact Highway 9.
A discussion took place regarding the lifespan of the bridge as its replacement would change the traffic setup. Alberta Transportation said they would check this information and report back next week.
John Shoff, Task Force member and downtown merchant, told inSide Drumheller, “Alberta Transportation seems willing to negotiate with the Task Force quite well, as long as we come up with realistic alternatives.”