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City Council voted Monday afternoon to decommission that section of the walking trail, after concerns raised about public safety on the curved section of the road where the speed limit is 70 kilometres an hour.
“I think that the walkway along the south side of the hospital is much safer,” says Mayor Lori Ackerman. “Walking along the bypass road has been wonderful for years, but it’s a little freaky for a pedestrian when there’s people that are coming around that corner doing what they’d like to say is the speed limit.”
A report on options was prepared by the Ministry of Transportation of Infrastructure, which said it would be willing to share in the cost of whichever option chosen. As the road is outside of city limits, and decision would have be approved by the Ministry
The first two options included setting up either concrete or steel cable barriers. A concrete barrier is considered the best option to increase pedestrian safety, but it would require the most amount of work, as the width of the shoulder would need to be increased, all at a cost of $90,000. A steel cable barrier would also require some modifications, and would cost $110,000. The third option would be to install Chevron Delineator signs, which would highlight the curve, but not provide any pedestrian protection, at a cost of $7,000.
In the end, the decision to decommission the section was made as none of the options presented provide 100 per cent safety, and the barriers would take away approximately half of the width of the trail, without the ability to maintain with snow blowers anymore. Maintaining the trail up 86 Street during the winter of 2011/2012 also required less than the bypass trail, and there are street lights installed along 86, unlike the bypass. Furthermore, there are flashing lights at the crosswalk at 109 Avenue, and the speed limit is 50 kilometres an hour, both increasing pedestrian safety.
The asphalt on the current trial will now be removed, and barriers and signs will be put up warning pedestrians not to use the trail and to go along 86 Street instead.
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