Traffic may not be the most glamorous issue a candidate in St. Albert’s municipal election might need to consider, but the topic is one candidates are certainly called upon — and looking to — address.
Adaptive traffic signals, traffic on St. Albert Trail, and photo radar, are all some of the concerns St. Albert residents have recently cited. The Gazette asked all candidates in the Oct. 18 election what their top traffic concerns are, and how they would like to see them addressed.
Mayoral candidates had 120 words to answer the question:
Cathy Heron: Transportation Network study identified 16 priorities. We have checked off many, including Ray Gibbon Drive and St. Albert Trail. Upon completion, traffic will flow much easier. I want to see Neil M Ross and Fowler Way built sooner rather than later. Another big priority for me would be to build a pedestrian overpass in the north. We have installed technology along St. Albert Trail to help improve traffic flow, setting the foundation for a shift in traffic-signal operations toward adaptive signal control — using real-time information to allow the signals to respond intelligently as traffic flow fluctuates throughout the day. This is a change from current operations, which use time of day and anticipated conditions rather than real-time conditions.
Angela Wood: For the past two terms, a significant amount of money has been invested in expensive software programs to help co-ordinate the traffic lights in St. Albert. Unfortunately, for reasons we are not fully aware of, this has yet to be achieved. A starting point to help address the traffic concerns is to discern what has occurred so far, who is managing the operation of this job, and insist on results within a reasonable time frame. We need to put some firm deadlines on the operations and hold our business counterparts accountable to get this done.
David Letourneau: Improving traffic flow on St. Albert’s major roadways is a top priority. The current practice is to make it easy to access major arterial roadways. There is potential to modify the approach, allowing our arterial roadways to flow better with less interruption. For example, intelligent transportation systems that are used in surrounding municipalities could be adapted in order to improve traffic flow. I think a continued investment in technology and artificial intelligence should be the priority to get people moving.
Bob Russell: People tell me that they are alarmed by the heavy traffic on St. Albert Trail and I will ask council to authorize me to meet with the provincial government and demand that they proceed with the financing to connect Ray Gibbon Drive with Highway 2 north, as this is clearly a provincial responsibility and not one cent more of St. Albert taxpayers’ money should be spent on this inter-provincial roadway.
Council candidates had 80 words to answer the question:
Donna Kawahara: I would like to see the twinning of Ray Gibbon completed. Enhancing alternate roads to enter and exit the city will help ease the burden off of St. Albert Trail. The current construction on the north end is important and once complete, will allow traffic to flow more smoothly.
Joseph Trapani: Improving the snow cleaning/removal policy: Why is the snow piled up onto driveways and corner walkways after a grader goes through? Now we must walk and drive over them, not good for vehicles and our residences. Why not do a better job, where seniors and disability personnel live, and make sure that their sidewalks are clean? How about having a bobcat follow the grader and clean the walkways and driveways? Traffic street lights: Is there a reason why they are not synchronized? We heard they are that way to slow traffic. Well, we drive those roads, and it sure doesn’t slow traffic down; but speeds it up, as drivers want to make the next light and this is causing more traffic jams and accidents. The Botanical City: Why on several streets is trimming of the grass not done or not done properly and walkways are not properly or at all painted? Wasting money: Why did we make disability sidewalks where there is no way to go. Check out Perron and St. Michael streets. Keeping taxes in line: With needs and not what would be nice to have. Keep our playgrounds and assorted parks open and usable.
Wes Brodhead: Traffic concerns are addressed one by one. The number one traffic problem was addressed by twinning Ray Gibbon Drive. This work is ongoing. The second traffic concern was congestion on St. Albert Trail at Villeneuve Road and north to Costco. This is nearing completion. The third concern was the congestion at the Boudreau/Bellerose intersection. This work is done. The Boudreau light co-ordination concern is addressed by introducing IT traffic management systems to the Boudreau Road corridor. This problem is next.
Ken MacKay: Traffic, roads, and improving our transportation network are part of my platform. I want to continue with the completion of major roadway construction and improvements, including Ray Gibbon Drive, Fowler Way, Villeneuve Road, and Neil Ross Road. These roads are important for improving traffic congestion and are essential to our economy. Continue intersection improvements. Expand adaptive signal technology to other roadways to improve traffic flow. I am also committed to reviewing the use of photo enforcement in our community.
Leonard Wilkins: a.) North-south traffic continues to be a challenge due to our only having four river crossings. We need to plan for Ray Gibbon Drive to extend to Highway 37 or Highway 2 as soon as is feasible. Restrict construction to only one main north-south artery at a time. b.) While not directly a traffic problem, there is an increasing need for transportation options for those who do not drive. This will require better mass transportation services in St. Albert.
Isadore Stoyko: The north end of the city is getting to be a bit of a nightmare — access on to St. Albert Trail on busy days is getting frustrating for people. The reduction on residential streets to 40 km/h is good, but there are some feeder roads that need to be increased for a better flow.
Jennifer Cote: Concerns about traffic congestion in St. Albert are clear and consistent. Though we are told various programs have been piloted throughout the city to alleviate this, it remains an issue. We will have to examine what strategies have been considered and employed thus far, what they have achieved, and who is monitoring results. Council will have to deliver concise instructions to city administration about expectations as they relate to decreasing traffic congestion.
Ross Guffei: My top traffic priorities are to make traffic flow at the lights in St. Albert, reduce the through traffic in Erin Ridge, review the way the city decides on the installation of traffic circles, speed up road construction projects, require contractors on road construction projects to remove barricades during morning and evening rush hour to allow vehicles to move more readily through the construction zones during those times. Establish a traffic committee to oversee all traffic construction projects.
Sandy Clark: In my opinion, approving developments without arterial roadways designed and built to support densification is poor management. Based on annexation lands and provisions of Flourish, I think it’s important that we move toward building Fowler Way and Neil Ross Road sooner, which may remove some “throughput” traffic from St. Albert Trail and proactively move toward completing a ring road. I’d also seek the cessation of costly “bulbs” at pedestrian crossings, which I believe impede safety for cyclists, pedestrians, and vehicles.
Mike Ferguson: I would like to get rid of the Tokyo-style intersection downtown. There should also be a pause on new road construction until we get our finances under control. The longer it takes Morinville people to get home, the more they might want to stop and enjoy one of our many fine restaurants.
Natalie Joly: I am proud that St. Albert's first priority in terms of transportation is safety. Our commitment to Vision Zero, where we work toward a world without traffic fatalities, is worth celebrating. That said, we can maintain this commitment while developing streets — and lights — that ensure efficient traffic flow. Projects that use intelligent responsive traffic signals, and designs that allow for passive and mass transportation, will ensure that residents can get around St. Albert safely and efficiently.
Louis Sobolewski: My biggest traffic issue is why is it taking so long to complete the construction on Highway 2 north of Giroux Road and Boudreau Road? How long does it take to build a road? I think bridges have been built in a shorter period of time.
Shawn LeMay: Where do I start? We need to pay better attention to demographic trends and growth patterns before investing in road work, only to have to do it again (waste of money). There are sequences that make no sense to me, and I find it hard to believe the mayor when she says, we run off an "intelligent sensor system." Further, I will debate the previous council’s assertion that “it’s impossible to synchronize lights.” I don’t buy it. It’s ridiculous that it takes forever to cross St. Albert, and less time to get through other comparable cities.
Sheena Hughes: Use our recent investments in technology to get the traffic lights better co-ordinated on all arterials and get traffic flowing better, especially on St. Albert Trail and Boudreau. This would decrease the incentive to shortcut through neighbourhoods. We also need to recognize the effect closing Coal Mine Road in 2010 has had in northeast St. Albert, and work with Sturgeon County to create alternate traffic flows to offset the traffic problem it has created.
Wally Popik: Traffic throughout the city is heavy during certain times of the day. We have so many different speed zones, flashing crossing intersections, and curbs jutting out into what was once a part of the driving surface that it has become confusing. Seniors, children, and pedestrians need to use extreme caution when crossing. Perron Street has so many crossings and extended curbs that it is almost impossible to travel safely at speeds more than 20 km/hr. Ticketing by our bylaw officers instead of by cameras would make a good start to improving this concern.
Kevan Jess: Through traffic, including commuting, seems to have been poorly planned for and bypasses promised by the provincial government have yet to exist. I chose to live south of river knowing that work commute from further north required crossing one of two bridges. All northbound traffic is funnelled at present to converge with St. Albert Trail at either Boudreau or Villeneuve, and efforts to add a single lane to alleviate this choke point seem to be overly complex and expensive. Completion of Ray Gibbon Drive and planning for tying into the 127th Street extension must be priorities. Sequential timing of lights driven by the intersection of the Trail and Boudreau needs to be enhanced.
Gilbert Cantin: Synchronizing lights at the actual speed limit on St. Albert Trail will be my priority number one. Ray Gibbon twinning is underway and should be kept on schedule. Boudreau is already pretty crowded. Most developments are happening to the north and we should start thinking of another link south-north, like extending Campbell and turn it to the north to create a fourth access.
Mike Killick: The traffic along St. Albert Trail, east-west traffic along Giroux and Boudreau, the intersections at Villeneuve and the Trail and at Hebert Road and the Trail are all major concerns. We have talked for years about synchronized traffic lights, but what we have is “co-ordinated” traffic lights. We need to finally develop a project to really do synchronized traffic lights. Completion of Ray Gibbon (on budget and on time) to Giroux is also a top priority.
Shelley Biermanski: My top traffic concerns are the wait time at some traffic lights, the change pattern that seems to stop larger directional flows when the reverse is needed. There is also a need for lights to be set different at night time and at minimal traffic times. The frustration of delays at lights is creating runs on the yellow lights. Lack of traffic movement often creates a less safe result as drivers become agitated.
Rachel Jones: City-wide, I think St. Albert has done a good job of addressing overall traffic congestion. Compared to living in downtown Edmonton, I find it easy to drive through St. Albert, even at rush hour. I do hope to see Ray Gibbon Drive expanded in the future for daily ease of commuting. Also, I do live on a busy boulevard, and I have a young son, and many of my neighbours have young children. I strongly support the lowered speed limits.