Four-way, two-way — which way to go?



Traffic congestion at the intersection in front of the hospital has some city councillors calling for the four-way stop to be replaced by a two-way stop.

The councillors say traffic would flow better if yield or caution signs were posted there.

For months, councillor Lynda Gunn has been pressing the city’s engineering department to look into removing the stop signs on Apex Road.

In June, the department contracted Dillon Consulting to review traffic flow at the intersections. It recommended the four-way stops stay in place.

But Gunn asked the engineering department to take a second look at the issue.

At this week’s council meeting, the engineering department told Gunn that after reviewing the traffic report it thinks that removing the stop signs could make it unsafe for pedestrians.

“The removal of the stop signs along Apex Road could result in increased vehicle speeds and therefore decreased safety of pedestrians attempting to cross in the east-west direction,” Matthew Hough, director of engineering, wrote in his report to city council this week.

Vehicles have been moving faster in that area of town since the new pavement was laid down, he said.

Councillor Keith Irving urged council to take pedestrian safety into account. “I’d err on the side of caution and keep the four-way stop,” he said.

Besides the safety issue, Hough also noted that traffic at the intersection is not as bad as people make it out to be. An analysis of traffic flow there during the mid-day peak — from 12:15 to 1:15 — showed it’s a “good level of service,” in engineer-speak.

Hough, who drives that route daily, said the traffic jams are minor. The longest he’s had to wait at the stop sign is 15 minutes, much shorter than in cities in southern Canada.

“I’m wondering if they were at the right intersection or if they did it on the weekend,” councillor Stu Kennedy said about the consultants conducting the review.

Councillor Gunn told stories of being in traffic line-ups that extended from the hospital down to the booster station.

Following the discussion, Hough put a motion on the table to keep the hospital intersection as it is. But the motion was defeated three to one.

Hough then suggested council wait for results of another traffic study before proposing any more changes to the intersection. As part of the new hospital expansion, consultants are looking at traffic flow in the hospital area.

“I think it’s premature to change that intersection now,” Hough said.

Councillors then voted to wait for results of the new traffic study.

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