An easier way to cross Thatcher at 11th Avenue

Lisa
Lisa Goudy
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Coun. Patrick Boyle discusses his motion to install crosswalks at the intersection at Thatcher Drive and 11th Avenue Northwest at the July 14, 2014 council meeting.

Council approves installing crosswalks at the busy intersection

Within two months, it’s going to be easier to cross the street at 11th Avenue Northwest and Thatcher Drive.

At Monday’s council meeting, councillors unanimously supported Coun. Patrick Boyle’s motion to install crosswalks at that location with funding from the West Park Village offsite levies account, as amended by Coun. Brian Swanson.

“It’s a very large road to cross in that area and oftentimes you’ll see people playing chicken with the majority of the cars coming back and forth and the area itself has a large amount of young families,” said Boyle.

“It takes one little kid to forget something and turn around at the drop of a hat and somebody’s not paying attention on the road … It’s a problem. It’s waiting to happen, absolutely.”

The intersection is the current gateway to the West Park development until another access from Ninth Avenue Northwest is finished. About 5,000 vehicles use the intersection daily. It is controlled by a two-way stop for north and sound bound traffic.

Residents living in the northwest area of the city regularly use the existing pathway on the south side of Thatcher Drive. West Park residents must cross Thatcher Drive to use the pathway.

The speed limit on that portion of Thatcher Drive is 60 kilometers per hour and there is no stop sign for vehicles west of Ninth Avenue Northwest on Thatcher Drive.

Boyle originally moved to install solar panels involving a solar powered flashing beacon pedestrian crosswalk with signs on vertical poles on both sides of the road. The cost was $11,000 including installation.

Swanson said offsite levy accounts are intended for servicing a subdivision. Installing a crosswalk would be a good use of that money, he said, but he wasn’t in favour of a solar-powered crosswalk. If it doesn’t work and there is an accident, he said there could be liability issues for the city.

“Although it’s much more expensive I think that the standard crosswalk is required there … We should be having those safety provisions that are a normal thing already in place,” said Swanson. “A legitimate question is why isn’t it already in place?”

According to an engineering department report, a typical pedestrian crosswalk at an average intersection is comprised of pedestrian walk signs with line painting on the road.

Because of the wider road and higher speed limit, the option “might not be safe for this intersection,” it said.

Instead, it proposed a possible alternative to solar panels as an overhead flashing light with pedestrian walk signs and line paintings. The large pole with arm and power supply will cost $50,000.

Swanson moved an amendment to eliminate the words “solar panel” from Boyle’s motion. Boyle indicated his support for the amendment, as did Coun. Heather Eby. She said she recognizes that there are other areas of the city that need to be looked at for installing crosswalks as well.

"But that doesn’t take away from the fact that this really needs to be looked at and I would say sooner rather than later,” said Eby. “I did happen to walk those trails last week and try to cross that road … It was like playing Frogger trying to get across there and it’s dangerous. I can’t imagine children trying to cross there.”

Follow Lisa Goudy on Twitter @lisagoudy.

Geographic location: West Park, 11th Avenue, Ninth Avenue Northwest

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