Last night, around 12:30am, council voted 7-5 in favour of the staff recommendation to keep Speedvale 4 lanes. There will not be a road diet.
I’d like to take the opportunity to thank everyone involved with this debate. There were many – from our staff, to the community and my colleagues on council that thought outside the box on this. What started out as a few options to choose from, became at least 10 options to choose from because of all the input received. And choice is good.
Something I have consistently heard for many years, is that there seems to be a select few number of people who are the continual “watch-dogs” and delegates of council and city hall. The perception is that this small, but vocal minority, seemed to somewhat overpower the silent majority.
This was not the case for this issue. The silent majority didn’t remain silent. You made a difference.
But what about bike lanes?
Council also directed staff to explore separated bike/sidewalk infrastructure along a stretch of Speedvale during the detailed design phase. This does not mean it will happen, it only means staff will explore it. There is no direction for this to come back to council but we’ve sent a message to staff that we still value a direct route for bicyclists but we dont’ want to see it on Speedvale, it needs to be separated.
Even if this exploration does not create the separated bike/sidewalks, we still passed a motion to move forward with the Emma/Earl bridge over the Speed River.
Last year during one of the election debates I stated that I wouldn’t remove any existing bike lanes, but a “balanced approach” is needed between the safety of cyclists and the need for car traffic to flow efficiently.
In other words, it’s time we are pro traffic-flow & pro bicycle-network.
The final decision made last night was just that.
Read it HERE.
The way I read their editorial is like they’re implying, that I and/or staff weren’t quite upfront with the citizens of Guelph when a barrel was found (again) during the ongoing construction on Wellington.
They wrote it in a way that plants the seed of doubt in the readers mind by suggesting that when I stated that the city is being “transparent” and “very good,” at reporting these events, that perhaps instead we are purposely being misleading.
Give me a break.
And that is when the Mercury says that my positive comments are:
“… up for debate.”
There’s inaccuracies in the Mercury coverage.
- The piece suggests two barrels were discovered Wednesday. This is not the case. One barrel was discovered Wednesday. Staff reported as much to Council Thursday morning and in its first of two media releases Thursday.
- The coverage also creates the impression workers were sent to hospital Wednesday. This is not so. Workers were sent to hospital Thursday and later released.
- It was also on Thursday that it became apparent that crumpled metal near the first drum was likely a second drum. The City issued a second news release with that new information and in it included reference to workers being taken to hospital.
We appreciate the public and media expect updates in real time. Staff have been responsive throughout this complex construction issue. While it is not always easy to get the very latest information to multiple stakeholders as things are changing on the ground, staff remain committed to transparent, timely and truthful communication.
Look, staff and I won’t see eye to eye on every issue. Thats a given. But don’t belittle our staff when I know they’re doing the best job they can on this issue and doing it with integrity.
So enjoy the debate folks.
The City has been very good at responding publicly when these barrels have been found and this latest one is another example of that transparency:
One more drum removed from construction site & Odours expected to subside quickly
Construction crews found, removed and contained one more metal drum on the construction site near the intersection of Wellington Street and the Hanlon Expressway.
The City has contacted the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, and Guelph’s Emergency Services team has investigated the area and advises anyone who is bothered by the odours to remain indoors, and close all doors and windows until the odours subside.
“We understand the odours are unpleasant; we’ve covered the drum and surrounding soil and will remove them as quickly as possible,” said Kealy Dedman, City Engineer.
Residents with questions or concerns about health can call Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health at 1-800-265-7293 extension 4753.
A gel-like substance was found on the outside of the drum; it did not contain any liquid, and there was no evidence that material leaked into nearby Howitt Creek. The City’s specialized contractor MGI Construction will transport and dispose of the drum and surrounding soil later today. The City expects any related odours to subside quickly.
Since September, 2014, 43 170-litre (45-gallon) drums have been removed from the site:
· Eight drums were removed in September, 2014
· One drum was removed during the site examination in November, 2014
· 33 drums were removed during remediation May 11 to June 4, 2015
· One drum was removed today
The City and its contractors believed they had completed cleanup activities on the site. The drum removed today was found in the soil barrier between the excavation area and Wellington Street—outside the construction route, and outside the remediation area identified last fall.
Soil quality in the area is the same as it was before construction started, and similar to conditions in other parts of the construction zone. The City will continue monitoring the area as part of its ongoing management of local brownfields and historic landfill sites.
“Our immediate priority is to manage what we’ve found in this construction zone. The City is also evaluating other old waste disposal sites, and will discuss our findings with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change,” added Dedman.
Visit guelph.ca/construction for updates about the Paisley-Clythe watermain.
For more information:
Kealy Dedman, City Engineer/General Manager
519-822-1260 extension 2248
After a marathon committee meeting from 5 till 9pm tonight, committee passed a motion, the recommended staff motions, to keep Speedvale Ave four lanes.
It now goes to council of the whole, with all of council to ratify (or amend, or not approve) on the 20th of July.
I’ll update more later, but I’d like to thank all of you for speaking up on this issue. I drove three hours from my family vacation to vote on this issue and am now driving all the way back.
I don’t like long blog posts. Yet this issue deserves a lengthy one so please stay with me.
I’ll start with what I’m hearing from the public:
1. When Silvercreek went down to one lane in each direction – It was a mistake.
2. When Woodlawn Rd became one lane in each direction from Victoria to Country Club Dr – It was a huge mistake.
3. If Speedvale Ave between Stevenson and Woolwich becomes one lane – This city will go livid.
We have a section of Speedvale that is in dire need of underground infrastructure replacement. The city is not ripping up roads for months at end to only repaint the surface. This is all about fixing what we have in the ground. And we need a fix on this section of Speedvale badly. Why? Because the pipes are old. Very old. The existing infrastructure was constructed in approximately 1950. As well, the installation of a transmission water main is required. The bridge just before Woolwich, over the Speed River, was constructed in 1950 and widened in 1974.
It’s time to redo them. Nobody debates this.
The debate, is how do we put it back together? The same? Four lanes with bike lanes? Four lanes with no bike lanes? Two through lanes and a dedicated turning lane? With bike lanes as well? Wider sidewalks or not?
Fair enough, so our staff went to the public for two years to get feedback. That’s right, you read that last sentence right, two years. They presented them with many options.
Here’s the Staff Recommended Option:
“The recommended option is a combination of Options 1 and 2. Option 1 is recommended from Woolwich Street to Riverview Drive and Option 2 is recommended from Riverview Drive to Manhattan Court. This approach includes four vehicle lanes and sidewalks on both sides of Speedvale Avenue. Bicycle lanes would be installed from Woolwich St. to Riverside Park only. Left turn lanes would be installed at Delhi St. and Metcalfe St. The bridge at the Speed River would be replaced with a four lane structure that includes bicycle lanes and wider sidewalks”.
Now enter “the diet”:
To accomplish the above recommendation, staff acknowledge that the city would have to deviate from a 2009 and 2012 bicycle policy that recommends putting bicycle lanes on roads when these type of infrastructure improvements occur.
This has upset many cycling activists and many who in my opinion feel called to change society’s behaviour through creating forced driving discomfort – on purpose – to people like you and me who drive cars.
Council has now had two public meetings within the last 3 weeks about this issue and we’ve had only delgates speak in favour of bike lanes with a proposed road diet. Yet this would mean only one lane of through traffic with a dedicated middle turning lane and bicycle lanes.
What I think is important, is the need to look at this issue through an engineering lens and through engineering princples. The data does NOT support putting Speedvale on a road diet. You cannot look at other roads in our city that may have become a diet and imply that doing the same thing on Speedvale is no big deal. Our projected transit routes will be heavily impacted as well.
Can you imagine the back up of traffic?
The staff report says this:
“Based upon the three lane section, the maximum traffic volume on Speedvale Avenue occurs during the afternoon rush hour in the eastbound direction. The 2013 traffic volume was 1,059 vehicles per hour (vph) and the traffic model projects that the volume will grow to 1,292 vph by 2023. The maximum traffic volume for the westbound direction was in the morning rush hour and the 2013 traffic volume was 866 vehicles per hour (vph) and the traffic model projects that the volume will grow to 1,057 vph by 2023. The estimated length of the traffic queue on Speedvale Avenue based upon the three lane section option was also analysed. In the eastbound direction on Speedvale Avenue, the traffic queue would extend from Delhi Street 330m toward Woolwich Street based upon 2013 traffic volumes. This would extend past the existing fire station at the corner of Riverview Drive and Speedvale Avenue. In 2023, the traffic queue would extend 630m which would be to the west side of the Woolwich street/Speedvale Avenue intersection. Both the existing and future queue lengths would cause significant operational issues for Emergency Services in their ability to respond to emergencies east of the fire station. The future queue length would also cause operational problems at the intersection at Woolwich Street/Speedvale Avenue as the queue on Speedvale Avenue would extend past the intersection. Also, the proposed design would include the installation underground utilities to allow for the future traffic signals at Metcalfe Street. If traffic signals were installed at Metcalfe Street, there would be similar queuing (as compared with the queuing at Delhi Street) occurring at this location. Upon review, the three lane option was not recommended due to the anticipated traffic congestion and operational issues for Emergency Services.”
What can you do?
Speak up. Become a delegate on this issue, write an email or call into your councillors. (by the way you can speak up in favour of the bike lanes and a road diet too. All are welcome to get involved.)
We have a comittee meeting on this issue on July 7th at 5pm. Email clerks here: firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up or have an email become part of the public record.
The full report from staff is HERE.
P.S – Anyone who accuses me of being anti-bike can just stop while you’re ahead. I’m pro traffic-flow and pro bicycle network. This doesn’t mean we default to roads everytime where it will impede traffic-flow. I worked at a bike store for 5 years. I collect vintage bicycles and commute to work and appointments on my bike often. In fact, as I write this last sentence, here’s what’s beside my desk: