Councillor to propose fixed design standards to make Edmonton neighbourhood roads slower

School zone speed limit signs up around Allendale School in Edmonton, Sept. 4, 2017.
School zone speed limit signs up around Allendale School in Edmonton, Sept. 4, 2017. Global News

Whenever the road builders hit an Edmonton community to either refurbish an old neighbourhood, or if they’re carving roadways for a brand new suburb, Councillor Andrew Knack wants a policy in place to make those streets built to handle a 30 km/h speed limit.

Knack, in an interview with Global News, said he’s planning to introduce a motion at the May 14 council meeting once the speed limit debate has been dealt with.

The intent is to change the default design so eventually years from now. all of the neighbourhoods built in the ’50s and ’60s with wide roadways that can handle faster speeds, will be converted into something narrower.

READ MORE: Edmonton city councillors discuss proposal to reduce residential speed limit

What twigged for Knack is the work going on in Strathcona, which is being designed for 30 km/h. City planners thought the redesign would be more costly and they built in a 10 per cent contingency. Knack said they found out they don’t need it.

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“Even in Strathcona’s example, which we thought was a fairly specific set of design features to help improve safety, it’s actually being done within that existing budget.

“So we don’t even need to increase the budget for that program to build these communities for safety.”

In other words, they have found out it doesn’t cost any more to be safer than it is to just replace what was there. City planners don’t have to put a new curb where the old curb was. They can narrow an 18-foot wide road to something that forces drivers to a slower speed limit.

“I think that will help alleviate some of the frustration, because we have some people who have said, ’30 km/h feels way too slow.’ [That’s] because on certain neighbourhood roads that are quite wide, it is.”

READ MORE: Mother of Edmonton girl struck by school bus calls on city to lower speed limit on Hemingway Road

Knack hopes this changes the perspective the city brings to the Neighbourhood Renewal Program.

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“It feels like we’ve done the reverse situation. We’ve put the onus on residents to sort of beg for safety.”

This new way, if it’s adopted by city council later this year, will mean residents will have to demonstrate to city planners why a road should be left at a design that is built for a higher speed.

“Even if there isn’t a short term reduction in the speed limits, this will set us up in the long term to have properly designed roads that addresses safety concerns.”

City council was scheduled to debate speed limits at the Apr. 30 meeting, but ran out of time so they delayed the item for two weeks.