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Transportation Master Plan subject of public open house




Work is ongoing on the town’s Transportation Master Plan (TMP) and a public open house was held to gather opinions and community needs.


Representatives from the Town of Amherstburg and its consultants TYLin were on hand at the Libro Centre last Tuesday night to hear from residents on short-term and long-term ideas contained in the plan. The focus was primarily the downtown core and surrounding neighbourhoods, up to and including the areas surrounding the Libro Centre.


The objectives of the TMP were described as being to improve connectivity and travel choices by providing reliable and accessible options, improving the safety of transportation systems for all users, planning a transportation infrastructure to support season tourism fluctuations, encouraging use of active transportation and transit, planning transportation infrastructure that assists in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, aligning with the town’s transportation vision and goals, improving regional transportation and transit connectivity and supporting the movement of goods and services in the region.


“This is the second public open house for the Transportation Master Plan,” said Todd Hewitt, the town’s manager of engineering.


Hewitt said the most recent public open house was a chance for the consultants to present feedback heard at the first open house. That involved slowing vehicles down in the downtown core, making the town more pedestrian friendly and promoting active transportation and transit.


“This is really about public input,” said Hewitt, of the ideas currently in the plan. “It’s a chance for people to give opinions on what they like or don’t like.”

Among the ideas presented in the draft TMP are “slow zones” including raised intersections, speed “gateways” and mini-roundabouts. “Gateways” involve such items as centre medians, signage and speed bumps. Mini-roundabouts are currently proposed along Gore St. at the intersections at King St. and Brock St. and Murray St., also at King St. and Brock St.


Curb “bump outs” are also suggested to enhance public safety and walkability, which would see several intersections west of Sandwich St. S. extended into the street to reduce crossing distances.


Road improvements would vary depending on what type of road – local roads, collector roads or arterial roads – with local roads possibly enhanced with wider sidewalks and planning strips. Collector roads could see the wider sidewalks and planting strips with bike lanes as well with the arterial roads possibly enhanced with hedges, bike lanes, and buffer space separating bikes and travel lanes.

Three options were listed for Murray St. between Dalhousie St. and Ramsay St., including doing nothing, removing parking but keeping the driving lane and closing it to vehicles altogether.


Public transit improvements over the life of the plan could include extending service to other facilities and parks such as the Libro Centre and Jack Purdie Park and even creating a transit service fully owned and operated by the town as opposed to the current Transit Windsor project. Another long-term possibility proposed in the draft plan could even be a transit hub near Bill Wigle Park.

Improvements at the Simcoe St. and Meloche Road intersections could see the narrowing of travel lanes, marked crosswalks and implementing an all-way stop. Over the long-term should traffic volumes increase, the plan states that would trigger the need for eventual signalization.


Traffic operations by 2028 contain possibilities such as traffic signalization at Sandwich St. S. and Fort St., and optimized signal timing at Sandwich St. S. and Richmond St. and a possible closure on Murray St. between Dalhousie and Ramsay Sts.


By 2023, the plan recommends traffic signals at Meloche Road and Simcoe St. and optimized signal timing along Sandwich St. S. at Alma St. and Simcoe St. By 2040, traffic signals are possible at Sandwich St. S. and North St., optimized signal timing and Sandwich St. S. and Simcoe St. as well as Front Road North and Middle Side Road, traffic signalization at Meloche Road and Alma St., and traffic signals at Alma St. and Fryer St./Tofflemire St.


Hewitt acknowledged that everything proposed in the plans costs money and that future budgets would have to reflect items the town would wish to implement.


Amar Lad, team lead with TYLin, said people are wanting safety improvements in such locations as the downtown core.


“What we’re hearing is a lot of excitement,” he said.


There is a need to slow speeds and help people get across the road more safely, he said, and much of that is the reason for the proposed “slow zone.”


Lad acknowledged a “handful of parking spaces” are proposed to be removed from the downtown core.


“They are adjacent to a lot of existing parking spaces that are under-utilized,” he believed.


Feedback from the second open house and the ongoing survey on the town’s Talk the Burg website (www.talktheburg.ca) will help shape the final plan that will be presented to town council. That could be presented to council later in the spring, with Lad stating there is a chance council could implement some short-term goals if they wish.


“We want to give council and staff an opportunity to test out some recommendations,” he said.


The TMP has been developed in conjunction with other plans the town is working on, said Lad, including an update of the Official Plan.


“This is not one plan standing in isolation,” he said.


By Ron Giofu

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