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    Categories: Local News

City to fix delays at new crosswalk

A woman uses the pedestrian scramble crosswalk at the intersection of Perron and St. Anne streets June. 1.

The city of St. Albert will make changes to the downtown scramble crosswalk later this summer, in response to feedback collected over the past six weeks.

In late May, a new type of crosswalk was introduced at the intersection of Perron and St. Anne streets. The scramble crosswalk is intended to make the busy downtown intersection safer by separating pedestrian and vehicle movements.

Initial feedback – collected through an online survey, on-site conversations and social media – has been mixed, said Dean Schick, director of transportation.

Overall pedestrian feedback has been positive, with participants indicating they feel safer, more comfortable and more confident in the downtown area. However, motorists have expressed concerns over delays.

To completely separate pedestrian and vehicle movements, the city eliminated right turns on red lights.

“What that created was a delay to the right turns, because even when pedestrian movement is not occurring … (vehicles) cannot make right hand turns,” said Schick.

Upon further review, right turns on red will be permitted when traffic is moving in the perpendicular direction. Meaning, a motorist can turn right off St. Anne Street on a red light, when Perron Street has a green light, and vice-versa.

Right turns on red will still be prohibited when pedestrian walk signs are activated.

Current signage will be replaced with a sign that illuminates when pedestrian movement is occurring. The sign would indicate that no right turns are allowed at that time.

Though the changes would still separate vehicle and pedestrian movement, Schick warns both motorists and pedestrians to be aware of their surroundings.

Part of the reason the changes are being implemented is due to problems with adherence. Preliminary feedback indicated drivers aren’t always complying with the no right turn on red rule.

While he could not say why these situations were occurring, Schick hopes that any frustration will be eliminated by the changes.

“We don’t want people making rash decisions or illegal movements,” said Schick. “Acknowledging that could be achieved by a slight change in indication, which can result in improved safety, as well as improved operations – that’s the goal here for the city.”

Improvements to the scramble crosswalk will be implemented in late July or early August. Until then, vehicles are not allowed to turn right on red lights under any circumstance.

The crosswalk pilot is part of overall pedestrian improvements for Perron Street, which include curb extensions and the installation of rapid flashing beacons at the intersections of St. Michael and St. Thomas streets.

These projects will be implemented once downtown storm water repairs are complete later this year.

Residents can continue to provide feedback on the intersection through an online survey. Search “pedestrian scramble” on the City of St. Albert website to find the survey before Sept. 30.

Michelle Ferguson: