Surface designs for the Washington St. renewal project were on display at the Rossland Art Gallery on Wednesday, Sept. 30 during a public design charette.
Rosslanders had the chance to examine the designs and ask questions of city staff and elected officials. Mike Maturo, the city’s interim chief administrative officer, gave a short presentation on the project and fielded most of the questions.
Residents raised a number of issues regarding the design, which Maturo will have to take back to city council for consideration.
Among them were concerns regarding the redesign of the intersection at Plewman Way, Kirkup Ave. and McLeod Ave. The design is intended to better define the intersection and direct traffic, but Rosslanders were concerned that it made an already sharp turn from south Plewman to McLeod even sharper. One resident proposed putting in a turning circle.
“We’ll revisit the Kirkup and McLeod intersection, and come back to council with comments based on the public input. So we’ll go back to the engineering firm, let them know the concerns, and go back to council with some of the limitations on what that space can be designed for,” said Maturo. “There’s obviously some good ideas, but whether or not we can actually make those work, and meet the standards that are acceptable for traffic planning is yet to be determined.”
Concern was also raised over how narrow the streets are in the proposed design.
The narrow design is meant to slow down traffic, but residents were concerned that the narrower streets wouldn’t leave any wiggle room to recover from a slide during the winter.
The design is also meant to discourage people from using Washington, Plewman and Kirkup as a shortcut to the highway, but residents were skeptical that would work. Instead residents proposed shutting off access to the highway altogether.
“If the residents up there and the town council thought that was a good idea, it could easily be done,” Maturo said of the proposal. “I wouldn’t take a position right now to do that until we had more time to consider it. It would obviously create an impact for all the streets leading down to Columbia [Ave.]. They would witness transit say toward Red Mountain and beyond, that they currently don’t witness.”
Any decision to close the street would have to be made by city council, and would no doubt undergo thorough public consultation.
There was also concern about how the new design would impact parking on not only Washington St., but also on Plewman Way.
Jessica Foster lives on Plewman, and said she’ll lose street parking, which she needs in the winter.
“So their (city staff’s) suggestion was … it’s our problem because we bought the house there knowing that that’s where our house was, and that it was on such a steep road,” said Foster. “We also have a lower level garage, but the drive into it is very steep and in the winter we can’t get in and out of that driveway so we don’t use it.”
Maturo offered to meet Foster on site to come up with a plan to change the grade of her driveway while the city has machines on site.
While many concerns were raised, there was also support for elements of the design. Members of the public left a number of notes on the renderings in support of the bike lanes, and other residents also said they were generally in favour of the changes.
“I’m generally in favour of the traffic flow suggestions,” said Chris Overton. “I was very skeptical of Columbia, but for the most part I think it’s working fairly well, and certainly better than what we had. So it’s worth giving this a try. If we learn that more changes are needed then they can always be done.”