August 29, 2018 6:10 pm

Council OKs rollout of residential ‘gateway’ speed-limit signs

The new "gateway" signs will be steadily installed at the entrances and exits of certain residential areas in Ottawa where the city feels a consistent speed limit of 40 km/h is more appropriate than the default 50 km/h.

City of Ottawa
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City council on Wednesday approved the rollout of so-called “gateway” speed-limit signs, which will be steadily installed at the entrances and exits of certain residential areas in Ottawa where the city feels a consistent speed limit of 40 km/h is more appropriate than the default 50 km/h.

Councillors also passed a motion by Somerset Coun. Catherine McKenney to revise the new bylaw so that the city can also install gateway signs demanding an even lower limit of 30 km/h – if the operating speeds in that community are already 35km/h or less.

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READ MORE: Placing new 40km/h ‘gateway’ signs across Ottawa could take decades without extra cash

The city has calculated it will cost close to $1.6 million to set up the new gateway signs across the city. But right now, the city’s traffic services department only has an annual budget of $50,000 to spend on installing them.

That budget constraint means only one residential “pocket” in each of Ottawa’s 23 wards will get equipped with the signs each year – for the next 30 years.

Because of this, Barrhaven Coun. Jan Harder asked staff to consider an “outside the box” approach for certain suburban communities like her own, which she argued could be designated as one gateway area and signed accordingly – rather than being divided into a number of gateway areas.

Harder suggested this would save time and money and would avoid councillors pitting communities against one another when assessing who’s next in line to receive the signs.

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Staff from the traffic services department will look into Harder’s proposal but warned council that the setup Harder is proposing would “most likely” confuse drivers and pose problems for enforcement of the speed limits.

In this scenario, a major road like Woodroffe Avenue that is typically 60 km/h might get a 40 km/h sign at the entrance to Barrhaven, followed immediately by a 60 km/h sign, director of traffic services Phil Landry told councillors.

The city would also have to remove all the existing 40 km/h speed-limit signs within the community, Landry said.

“It would most likely create confusion for people because you’d see a 40 and then you’d see a 60,” he said. “And then you’d also remove the signs on the residential streets where we’re trying to get people to drive at those speeds.”

Harder and Orléans Coun. Bob Monette disagreed this approach would cause confusion.

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Harder’s request to staff also asked for a cost analysis of her proposal.

Knoxdale-Merivale Coun. Keith Egli reminded council that staff told the transportation committee earlier this month they are “exploring funding options” to accelerate the installation of gateway signs.

Some councillors suggested at the Aug. 15 meeting that the city could take revenue collected via photo radar (once it’s in operation) and put it towards the new speed-limit signs.

The decision whether to increase the annual budget for the signs’ installation will be up to the new council elected this fall.

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