Since the Valley Line LRT has been approved, residents, City Council, and City Administration have been working through a number of details (ex: station design, parking, etc.). As a result of the route into the west end of Edmonton, the Valley Line LRT will change how Stony Plain Road operates.
Stony Plain Road is a Main Street in Edmonton which thousands use everyday to get around the City. It is also home to many property owners, businesses, commuters, pedestrians and residents.
City Administration has engaged in extensive consultation to determine how to best change the urban design of the area to accommodate the new LRT. On March 21, 2018 Edmonton’s City Council asked Administration to provide a report on the engagement and analysis of potential one-way traffic options, an idea proposed by the Stony Plain Road Business Improvement Area. On October 30th, City Council received this report, which specifically summarizes the results of a design review on Stony Plain Road between 149th Street and 156 Street. To begin, I will explain the five options that have been proposed. These are:
Option 1 – One-Way “Split” Roadway, Two Westbound Through Lanes Divided by LRT
This design includes centre running LRT alignment with a lane of traffic on either side, both in the westbound direction. This concept was suggested through the public engagement process, as a way to maintain current westbound traffic capacity while retaining the benefits of centre-running LRT.
Option 2 – One-Way Roadway, LRT South Alignment with Two Westbound Through Lanes
This design includes south side running LRT alignment with two westbound through lanes. This option provides the opportunity to use the north curb lane for on-street parking during off-peak periods.
Option 3 – One-Way Roadway, LRT South Alignment with One Westbound Through Lane and One Left Turn Lane
This design includes south side running LRT alignment with one dedicated westbound left turn lane and one westbound through lane.
Option 4 – One-Way Roadway, LRT South Alignment with 1 Westbound Through Lane and Wider Sidewalks
This design includes south side running LRT alignment with one westbound through lane and approximately three metre wide sidewalks and amenity spaces.
Option 5 – Two-Way Roadway, LRT Centre Alignment with One Lane Each Direction
This design includes centre running LRT alignment with one eastbound and one westbound lane.
Based on public engagement feedback from community members, assessment of the design options, and taking into consideration all operational and urban design impacts, the City Administration proposed that we continue with Option 5, with two-way LRT and roadway operations along Stony Plain Road (SPR) between 149 and 156 Streets, as originally outlined in the Valley Line West Plan.
During the discussion, I explored a new option which is a blend of Option 2 and Option 4. While Option 5 does have benefits, I was concerned about the loss of parking on SPR as it may negatively impact the access to businesses and services. Similarly, the two-way traffic proposed with Option 5 would remove left turns for drivers who want to visit a business or service on the opposite side of the street. The final issue I was concerned about was the possibility of very narrow sidewalks on one of our Main Streets.
I have spoken to many people that travel and shop along Stony Plain Road over the past years, I also use the road regularly. Based off of these conversations, I thought a combination of Option 2 and Option 4 should be explored. Option 2 and Option 4 both suggest that Stony Plain Road turn into a one-way road. The reason I thought a blend would be well suited to the area is Option 2 retains some parking capacity which in the area, and would also allow for a parking lane and Option 4 allows for wider sidewalks, and while wide sidewalks are not needed during all hours from the day, I want to take best practices from Whyte Avenue where the sidewalks are arguably not wide enough.
With this in mind, I asked administration several questions about the viability of Option 2 and 4, with the intention of finding a solution that best serves people visiting by car and foot as well as businesses in the area. At this point administration answered all questions and concerns I have with Option 5, and as such, have received a clear mandate to move forward with Option 5 – with the stipulation that the pedestrian space be prioritized. This option will model the feel of 104 street, where if there is interest, would be the option to close the road entirely to vehicle traffic to become a pedestrian street at certain times or for specific events. I am confident after the discussion with administration, that the new design under Option 5 will adequately activate the pedestrian space while maintaining enough parking on the side streets.
Although it has taken some strategic thinking to decipher the best way forward for Stony Plain Road, I am excited about the future of this Main Street. In fact, the City of Edmonton has done extensive work on the future with the Urban Design Vision for Stony Plain Road.
As a result of the Urban Planning meeting this week, the final decision was to keep Stony Plain Road as a two-way street. Construction for the Valley Line LRT West can be expected to start in mid-2020. I am excited to see the ongoing revitalization of Stony Plain Road and I know the LRT will play a major role in that work.
Written by A. Knack and M. Banister.