More trees and shrubs, improved pedestrian safety, and flexible space for parking or patios is coming to the west stretch of Jasper Avenue in downtown Edmonton.
The changes are planned for Jasper Avenue from 109 Street to 124 Street in the Oliver neighbourhood, where the aging roads and sidewalks are slated for full reconstruction.
The Imagine Jasper Avenue plan aims to put pedestrians first and encourage other forms of travel like cycling, walking, and taking transit.
To that end, the plan will remove the third lane of traffic east of 121 Street, and get rid of the right-turn lane at 116 Street, in order to widen the sidewalk and add trees along the street. The wider sidewalks will be able to accommodate patios and seating nodes.
Right now, the third lanes are designated bus lanes during the morning and afternoon commute, meaning transit will share the outer lane with other vehicles.
The plan also reduces the number of bus stops along the avenue, which Imagine Jasper Avenue project manager Satya Gadibasu said is in line with the upcoming transit strategy.
Bus shelters will be installed at all of the bus stops.
The city said removing the third lane of the road will reduce the crossing distance for pedestrians, and allow for the creation of a “flex zone” that can be used for permanent on-street parking, patios, parklets or other temporary use.
The plan also calls for centre medians with raised planter beds to be added along the road. Sections for on-street parking will be designated.
The plan also focuses on improvements at the 110 Street intersection, where high-visibility bike lane crossings and traffic signals and traffic lights just for cyclists.
The city also plans to build a plaza space on the north side of the road with a terraced sitting area.
The plan was unveiled at an open house at Oliver School on Thursday night, where people could view the final designs and ask questions.
Gadibasu said the project aims to strike a balance between creating a destination for people to hang out, and maintaining “a link for people who are getting in and out of downtown on a daily basis,” he said at the open house.
The city envisions the west side of Jasper Avenue as a vibrant, community-focused, all-seasons destination, as opposed to a major thoroughfare to get downtown.
WATCH BELOW: The city blocked off sections of roadway on Jasper Avenue to make more room for pedestrians in 2017, as part of a pilot project. Kendra Slugoski reports.
The city ran a trial of the plan in summer 2017, when a number of temporary features were added to the stretch of road west of 109 Street.
The Imagine Jasper Avenue test pilot brought criticism for park benches taking up the outside lanes of traffic, and how shoddy things looked after only a couple of weeks.
Gadibasu said the negative feedback the city received from the pilot was that the new features were too close to moving traffic, turning on to narrow side streets was difficult, and vehicles had a hard time turning right at 109 Street to head south to the High Level Bridge.
He said there were also positive comments. “A lot of people felt it was very safe because they have shorter crossing distance to cross,” Gadibasu said.
The city said the final plan reflects the feedback.
“We re-opened the 109 Street right-turn bay, but we tightened the radius of the corner so vehicles have to slow down.”
The plan will now move on to detailed design work, which is expected to last most of 2019.
Construction on phase one, between 109 Street and 114 Street, is set to begin in the spring of 2020 and last two years. The city has set aside $20 millon for it.
Construction of phases two and three, west of 114 Street, has not been funded in the city’s budget yet, so no timeline has been set.
BELOW: The Imagine Jasper Avenue overall streetscape plan from 109 Street to 124 Street.