Sidney making a move on traffic

Municipality hires consulting firm to recommend possible upgrades to vehicle flow, pedestrian safety

Traffic in downtown Sidney is being studied by a consultant for the municipality. The town hopes it can improve on driver and pedestrian safety.

Traffic in downtown Sidney is being studied by a consultant for the municipality. The town hopes it can improve on driver and pedestrian safety.

If you’ve noticed someone sitting at a downtown Sidney intersection, you’ve seen a part of the town’s ongoing traffic movement study.

The Town of Sidney has contracted Urban Systems Ltd. to conduct the study, following a request for proposals process that began on August 1, 2012. Director of engineering and public works Rob Hall says the town does receive plenty of feedback from people on traffic in the downtown, especially around intersections and four-way stops.

“It is time to look at things in a general sense,” he said. “We want to avoid doing anything with traffic that would cause a domino effect.”

Hall used the example of James White Boulevard, which has a few four-way stop intersections along its length, as well as intersections with stop signs only on the cross streets. That, he explained, was set up based on traffic pattern studies in the past. At the time, he said they showed fewer vehicles approaching from those cross streets. It wouldn’t have made sense then to impede the main traffic flow up James White Boulevard, he continued.

Today, Hall said the town is seeing growth in the Peninsula and its resultant traffic changing the flow in Sidney’s downtown. In their request for proposals, the town noted it’s anticipating an increased population density in the downtown core with its accompanying traffic impact. The report states that Sidney wants to get out in front of those changes to ensure a business, resident and pedestrian-friendly environment.

To that end, Urban Systems is monitoring intersections, counting pedestrians, reviewing existing reports and studies and more.

The town’s project scope asks the contractor to make recommendations on potential alterations to the current traffic configuration and flow.

“There have been changes in the patterns over the years,” said Hall, “especially when there were changes to McTavish Road (a series of roundabouts were added).

“This is just for Sidney’s downtown.”

What he hopes the town will get from this latest study, is recommendations for a traffic configuration that will take pedestrian safety and access to both residential areas an businesses into account, especially as the area grows.

A draft report from Urban Systems is expected before council in mid November to early December. Hall said he expects no action from the municipality until after council reviews and accepts the report’s contents by late January, 2013.

Drivers and pedestrians should see no changes to traffic patterns until after that time.