Recap of our meeting today re: traffic safety

Hi neighbours.

For the past few months the Fairwinds Community Association has been focused on a number of traffic safety issues in our community.  This morning, ten Fairwinds residents met with Shad Qadri, members of city staff and the Ottawa Police at the corner of Huntmar and Maple Grove for an update and Q&A session.  Councillor Qadri set this meeting up at our request and it was an excellent opportunity for all of us to share information and air some concerns.

We held the meeting outdoors, standing around in a large circle in the parking lot at the Mattamy sales office. (It was a great place to do the meeting because everyone could see the traffic problems first-hand.  Just before we started, a car was pulled over for a violation at Huntmar/Maple Grove. We witnessed a tractor trailor truck heading down Huntmar, probably illegally.  And there was a constant flow of heavy trucks along Maple Grove that loudly interrupted our discussion throughout the meeting.)

Traffic issues are complicated! What may seem like a simple solution isn’t always practical, easy, or advisable to implement.  Thanks to Councillor Qadri and Georgie from his office for organizing today’s meeting, and thank you to all of the residents, city staff and police who endured the cold and participated in the constructive discussion.  (Here’s the agenda from today as well as some background info from city staff:  Fairwinds traffic safety meeting notes from shad qadri.pdf)

Residents and city staff meet to talk traffic on October 30

 

Here’s a summary of what we heard.

 

HUNTMAR-MAPLE GROVE INTERSECTION

  • Many residents have expressed concern about the safety of the lane configuration, and the efficiency of the turning lanes, in particular the northbound lane.   The lane configuration was designed based on traffic volume data, and on best practice design used in other parts of the city.
  • City staff are recommending that the lines be re-painted as a single lane in each direction. They will be providing the community with a proposed design that we can comment on before it’s implemented.  It sounds like this would be the safest – and least confusing – configuration for the intersection.
  • There is a camera at the intersection that traffic staff are using to study traffic flow. They continue to make adjustment to light timings to make sure traffic is moving as efficiently as possible.
  • This intersection design is temporary/interim. The final build-out will happen when Huntmar north of Maple Grove is widened to four lanes, and when Maple Grove east of Huntmar is finished.  That’s a long-term timeframe.
  • Why a traffic light and not a round-about? The City requires an intersection with a diameter of at least 44m to meet safety and design standards. Huntmar & Maple Grove is only 35m, so land would have to be purchased to gain enough space for a round-about.  (One of our residents asked staff to consider a roundabout with a smaller footprint.)

 

HUNTMAR, BETWEEN THE ROUNDABOUT AND HAZELDEAN

  • Traffic staff acknowledged that this section of Huntmar is on the list for roads that require permanent traffic calming features, which can include anything from speed bumps to narrower lanes. A study is required to evaluate the road and come up with a plan.
  • Problem is, the city doesn’t have the resources to complete a study, and there are many other competing projects. There is no study planned in the immediate future to address traffic concerns.
  • That said, the city has identified traffic calming as one of its strategic initiatives, and there is a yearly budget available to communities for temporary measures. Streets in our area like Huntmar, Maple Grove and Rosehill may be eligible and we will work with our councillor to implement in Fairwinds.
  • There is a traffic light planned for in front of the Food Basics, but it won’t get built until there’s more commercial development in the Food Basics plaza or across the street west of Huntmar. The city won’t install a traffic light until there’s enough traffic to warrant it.

 

PEDESTRIAN ACCESS TO TANGER

  • Staff rejected our suggestions for a temporary one-way configuration to allow room for a sidewalk on the Huntmar bridge. They said it was cost-prohibitive and would be confusing and unsafe for motorists.  (Although it is confusing and unsafe for pedestrians as it exists!)
  • A sidewalk will be added to the Huntmar Bridge when it’s widened to four lanes. Currently, that’s not slated to happen until 2026.
  • Qadri and city staff are looking at moving construction forward to 2018, but that will require altering the city’s Transportation Master Plan (TMP).
  • There’s also a plan to build a future pedestrian bridge over the highway to connect to a future Transitway station. (Longer term timeline.)

 

ROUNDABOUT RIGHT OF WAY

  • Currently, cars have the right-of-way in roundabouts. That rule is changing, and by next spring we will start seeing new signage at roundabouts that will give pedestrians the right of way.  That’ll make it easier for families and dog walkers to cross Huntmar during busy traffic periods.  (There wasn’t a lot of info about this but we understand that details will be coming soon from the city.  It’s in response to changes in the Ontario Highway Traffic Act.)

 

PARKING

  • In general, the city likes parking on both sides of wide streets like Rosehill and Maple Grove because it creates a funnel effect and slows down traffic.
  • Residents pointed out some problems with parking on the curves on Tempest and Rosehill, and staff said that if there is a sightline issue then they can limit parking. Staff will be reviewing these areas.

 

TRUCKS

  • Police are doing what they can to enforce “no truck” rules in our community, including along Huntmar, but they lack resources. Truck traffic is one of many traffic infractions they’re focused on, and they are spread thin.
  • Shad Qadri’s office and the police have contacted local businesses and developers like Mattamy and Tartan and have reminded their employees, contractors and suppliers to avoid “no truck” roads in our community.
  • Additional signage is being added near the truck bay at the Food Basics reminding drivers not to use Huntmar.
  • Construction vehicles should not be using Rosehill to access the new home development site west of Fairwinds. Residents should call the police to report at 613-236-1222 or file a report online.

***

Fairwinds is in the middle of a rapidly developing area with new homes, stores and businesses being added all the time.  We recognize that in the long term, the city has a plan to divert traffic away from the community with new road and transit infrastructure.  In the meantime, we’ll continue to work with councillor Qadri and the city to find ways to make our Fairwinds streets safer.

We a have a number of follow-ups and action items coming out of today’s meeting and will keep the community posted via our website and email newsletter.

We’d like to hear questions, concerns and feedback from residents. You can contact info@fairwindscommunity.com.  We’d also like to hear from anyone who would be interested in joining a traffic safety committee to keep on top of these issues.

 

Thanks for reading and being interested in this issue!

Glen Gower
President, Fairwinds Community Associatione