Council hears more background on roundabouts

For the third meeting of Yorkton Council discussion about what to do at the intersection of Mayhew Avenue and Darlington Street dominated the agenda.

City administration began the discussion by providing Council with newly researched information regarding roundabouts, primarily in other Saskatchewan cities

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“During further discussion at the May 6 regular Council meeting, several comments/questions arose regarding Saskatoon and Regina pertaining to roundabouts,” began René Richard, Director of Engineering with the City as the intersection discussion was again launched.

Richard said after the last meeting it was clear Council sought more information on roundabouts.

“Following the meeting, Administration conducted further research. It was discovered that there was a new school facility in Saskatoon that had a roundabout located within the school zone. This facility houses both Catholic and Public elementary schools as well as a daycare space making it a fairly good comparable to the proposed Yorkton location,” he said.

“Administration reached out to both schools to get feedback about how the roundabout was operating and if there have been any safety concerns, especially regarding pedestrians. No response was received from the public school, but correspondence was received from the Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools.

“The Manager of Facilities and Capital Projects for the Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools indicated that, although they have several facilities in close proximity to roundabouts, facility Administration requested feedback on the facility that is likely the closest to a roundabout. The comments received advised that the roundabout seems to have struck a balance between traffic flow and safety and to date, there have been absolutely no concerns with the operation of the roundabout specific to safety.”

Administration also reached out to the City of Saskatoon in an effort to acquire more information regarding the new roundabout. The questions asked were:

 * Was the school proximity taken into consideration when designing this roundabout?

* Are there any special provisions with traffic or pedestrians for roundabouts because of the schools that would be different for other roundabouts? 

* Are you aware of any issues that have a come up relating to safety, especially pedestrian? 

* Has vehicle speed been an issue due to the roundabout versus a 4-way stop?

“A Senior Transportation Engineer for the City of Saskatoon responded to the request for information. She indicated that for two of the six new P3 schools sites in Saskatoon, roundabouts were a part of the approved neighborhood concept plans, which took the school locations into account. At these two school sites, no speeding or pedestrian safety concerns have been raised. They feel that the roundabouts are working very well in the school zones as they allow school buses and parents to “U-turn” safely and that roundabouts generally reduce speed not increase it. As an additional note, there have been speeding concerns at the other P3 schools which do not have a roundabout in the school zone. In both instances where the roundabout was used, there are no special design features to further reduce speed such as speed bumps,” said Richard.

The next call went out to Regina.

“Administration also reached out to the City of Regina to inquire on why they do not have any roundabouts. The Manager of Development Engineering responded. While there are currently no formal roundabouts, there is a traffic circle on the university campus. The City of Regina is not opposed to the use of roundabouts and there is no primary safety reason why they have not been utilized yet. They feel there hasn’t been the “right fit” yet, but the City of Regina will be utilizing roundabouts in the new Coopertown Neighbourhood, however with the growth rate slowing it may be some time before construction occurs,” said Richard.

In terms of safety, Richard said roundabouts are good for pedestrians.

“There is much evidence to suggest a roundabout is a safe option for pedestrian due to the splitter islands which provide a refuge and reduce the length of the crossing ... However, other traffic calming methods could be utilized if Council wishes. Speed bumps could be constructed, although they may pose other problems such as noise, maintenance and access for emergency services. Another option would be to use solar powered pedestrian crossing lights similar to those approved in the 2019 and 2020 capital budget for a few other crosswalk locations,” he said.

The estimate for these is between $15,000 and $25,000 each.

“The SGI Special Committee on Traffic Safety recommended a Photo Speed Enforcement (PSE) pilot project to help reduce speed-related accidents in the Province. Photo radar units were established in Saskatoon, Regina, Moose-Jaw and Prince Albert. The pilot program has demonstrated success in reduction of collisions and recently SGI has indicated that a portion of the photo speed enforcement fine revenue will be pooled and grants provided to municipalities for local safety initiatives. The City of Yorkton was successful in receiving $27,000 in 2019 and intends to apply for more funds in the second intake. These proceeds could be used for pedestrian crosswalk lights at the roundabout,” added Richard.

Richard said there were several outcomes that could occur at the meeting Monday.

At the last Council meeting (May 6, 2019), Councillor Randy Goulden submitted to the City Clerk a written notice of intent to move reconsideration of the resolutions made at the April 15, 2019 Council Meeting regarding the roundabout at this May 27, 2019 Regular Council meeting. Order of Business puts this item at the end of the meeting under “Notice of Motion” for Council’s consideration, he said.

With another look at the issue Richard told Council there were several possible outcomes in terms of what they might chose to do. The action that could transpire was as follows:

* A majority vote of Council to reconsider April 15, 2019 roundabout motions.

* Then the principle motion regarding the roundabout is on the table and if it is desirous of Council to include crosswalk lights or other amenities (speed bumps) as part of the project when it goes to tender, an amendment would have to be moved to the principle motion to include these things.

* A vote would occur on the amendment to the principle motion.

* The principle motion would then be voted on either as amended or as originally put, depending on Council’s vote on any amendments.

* The original resolution from the April 15, 2019 meeting regarding the tendering of four options for the intersection would then be rescinded.

It was then Council’s turn to again discuss the proposal (see related story this issue).

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