Yorkton Council may have put the completion of work on Mayhew Avenue and its intersection with Darlington Street on hold pending further engineering and a new tender request which came out of discussion at the regular meeting April 15, but the Yorkton Chamber of Commerce was at Council this Monday hoping to immediately restart the project.
The work, which was approved in the 2019 and 2020 budget process already undertaken by Council bogged down in April as Council faced a decision over the eventual make-up of the intersection.
As part of preliminary design and budget preparation, a Traffic Signal Warrant analysis of this intersection was completed in November 2018. The warrant analysis is a standardized process recommended by the Transportation Association of Canada (TAC) and involves a lengthy formula and a warrant matrix.
From that process it was suggested a four-way stop was not sufficient, and the recommendation was to install a roundabout.
But Council was not on side with the recommendation in April.
When it came to a vote to proceed with a roundabout Council ended up in a three-to-a-side tie, with Coun. Darcy Zaharia not in attendance. A tie defeats a motion in municipal government in Saskatchewan, leaving the fate of the intersection and Mayhew reconstruction in limbo.
Coun. Mitch Hippsley suggested a compromise whereby the City would tender seeking prices on both a four-way stop and a roundabout to confirm prices.
The motion passed with only Maloney opposed.
In a letter to Council presented by Chamber of Commerce president Mike Stackhouse another look at the intersection was requested.
“The Yorkton Chamber of Commerce appreciated that it is the responsibility of Council to make difficult decisions. However, the recent decision by Council not to support the installation of a roundabout at the intersection of Darlington and Mayhew is of concern to our member businesses and therefore, of concern to the Chamber’s Board of Directors,” stated Stackhouse.
The letter detailed several reasons to re-look at the issue.
The Chamber urges Council to reconsider its decision to request from Administration more drawings and estimates for the cost of a roundabout and 4-way stop at the intersection for the following reason:
• A Traffic Analysis has determined that the current 4-way stop at that intersection is already inadequate. Based on the Transportation Association of Canada guide, in order to achieve safety and efficient flow of traffic, the 4-way stop must be discontinued
• As the City grows in that area, the need for a safe and efficient method for moving traffic will become even more urgent
• Administration recommended that the most cost effective, long term solution to the heavy traffic at that intersection is a roundabout
• nstallation cost of the roundabout at the time of the recommendation is only $180K more than the cost of installing an out-of-date 4-way stop
• By requesting more drawings, the entire reconstruction project has been delayed by one year
• The Mayhew/Darlington intersection services two main arterial roads
“Council, you have the information you need to make an informed decision. A 4-way stop no longer serves the needs of that intersection. The Chamber, therefore, requests that you do not delay your decision any longer and that you instruct Administration to give the green light to the construction of a roundabout at Mayhew and Darlington,” said Stackhouse.
To re-open the motion that was passed in April, a unanimous vote by Council was required.
A motion was made, with a seconder that did allow for some discussion Monday.
Councillor Quinn Haider started by noting in his three years on Council he had “never had as many people contact me about one topic as this one.”
Haider said he was not necessarily opposed to a roundabout but was still seeking more information, in particular about the impact on speed of vehicles leaving the roundabout and heading east in front of the adjacent church and two schools.
And the cost of $180,000 more than a four way stop was also a question for Haider who noted some past estimates of cost, such as the clean-up of the former Café 191 location have been significantly off the estimates.
Coun. Darcy Zaharia was next stating “I agree with everything Councillor Haider said.
Zaharia said one concern for him is that Regina has not moved to install a single roundabout.
Hippsley said the issue for him was not the roundabout.
“I believe in roundabouts,” he said, but he too questioned the cost.
Coun. Goulden said she trusts the recommendation that a roundabout is the best option to deal with traffic flows and provide safety for pedestrians.
“The best standard for safety is a roundabout,” she said, adding Council has had all the information it requires in its packages, information they are privy too that residents leery of a roundabout have not seen. She added the information comes from “people that have the knowledge and expertise.”
In terms of those fearing people will speed through a roundabout, Goulden said some people will break speed limits no matter the situation.
“No matter what you put up people are going to speed … so we need enforcement,” she said.
Goulden also noted that while Regina may not have a roundabout, Edmonton and many other cities do.
Coun. Aaron Kienle said he too was comfortable relying on the recommendations of the experts, and that includes on safety, where he said, “a roundabout is your clear cut winner” as the safest option.
Coun. Ken Chyz was not convinced.
“I really have a problem believing a roundabout is safer than a four-way stop,” he offered.
In the end the motion to reopen the motion for April was not unanimous so the issue died yet again.
But there may still be a third chapter in the roundabout debate, as a Councillor can make a written request to reopen debate at the next meeting of Council May 27.