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Council aims to calm traffic across town

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A total of 607 vehicles were recorded travelling Reid Avenue between Aug. 7 and 9. (Photo courtesy of Google Maps).

Merritt city council has voted against a motion to immediately set up traffic calming measures on a residential street.

Coun. Mike Bhangu’s notice of motion calling on the city to immediately implement traffic calming measures on Reid Avenue was defeated 5:2 at a regular meeting on Aug. 13.

Councillors Bhangu and Melvina White voted in favour.

“In my understanding the residents of Reid [Avenue] have for many years approached city hall with their concerns and little action, if no action, has been taken,” said Bhangu.

While he said he agrees that traffic calming measures are needed on Reid Avenue, Coun. Kurt Christopherson noted there are many other areas in town with similar issues.

“At least Reid Avenue has sidewalks on both sides. There are streets in town, particularly Parker [Drive], Juniper [Drive] that don’t have sidewalks, have pot hole issues — some of which have been recently fixed which is great — but there are many other areas in town that have struggled for many years to get attention brought to them so I wouldn’t want our efforts just to be aimed at Reid Avenue,” he said.

Scott Hildebrand, the city’s CAO updated council on the temporary traffic calming measures city staff are in the process of implementing.

In partnership with the community policing office and the RCMP, the city has invested in a mobile speed sign that counts traffic volume and documents the average speed of vehicles going by.

“This radar sign has been posted in a number of areas around the city and it is providing some great data which will allow us to make better decisions moving forward,” said Hildebrand.

Reid Avenue was recently monitored between Aug. 7 and Aug. 9, said Hildebrand. The data showed there were 607 vehicles that drove by during that time, and only three vehicles were travelling above the speed limit.

Staff will continue to set up the radar on different roadways in Merritt, and invite the public to share their thoughts on where data should be collected.

Three solar-powered pedestrian lights have also been ordered to notify drivers they are entering a busy location for pedestrian traffic and to drive with care.

The lights are planned for three different locations along Voght Street: near the post office, between Grimmett and Walters Street near the hospital and near Central Elementary.

Hildebrand said he expects the lights to arrive in the coming weeks.

Yield signs — placed in the centre of residential streets to warn traffic to slow down — have also been proposed by Hildebrand, who said he has seen success with it in other communities.

“We are already putting in the calming measures on Reid [Avenue],” said Mayor Linda Brown in voting against Bhangu’s notice of motion. “So I think voting against this doesn’t mean we’re not for this — what it means is that we are already doing this.”

Finally, staff are in the planning stages of the Voght Street redesign.

“We are working through that and it will be part of the 2020 budget,” said Hildebrand. “But planning continues, which will include a full public consultation on how we can make Voght Street safe and efficient at he same time.”

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