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Council approves traffic calming curbs for Cottonwood

Posted on May 2, 2024 by Sunny South News

By Nikki Jamieson
Sunny South News

New traffic calming curbs will be installed at a Cottonwood crossing to improve pedestrian safety.

During their regular April 22 meeting, Coaldale town council received some follow up information regarding traffic calming curbs.

Back in February, council received a request from administration to approve an installation of traffic calming curbs at the mid-block crossing along Cottonwood Drive between Highway 845 and 21 Street. Council had tabled the discussion on Traffic Calming Curbs, pending further information from administration and input from the residents of Cottonwood Drive.

Ultimately, traffic calming curbs aim to reduce speeds and improve pedestrian safety by narrowing an area, making drivers more likely to reduce their speeds which lessens the risk of pedestrian collisions.

The mid-block crossing in question poses a safety risk not only because of the wide street, but because of the tall fence on each side of the road, which can make it hard for speeding motorists to see pedestrians. Following consultation with nearby residents, administration is recommending placing a removable, physical barrier at this crossing to better improve safety.

“It will make pedestrians more visible to drivers by being able to stage closer to the driving lanes, essentially bringing them more into the field of vision for the drivers as they’re coming down the roadway,” said Duston Yanke, director of infrastructure for the Town. “The effective crossing distance will also be shortened, so it will result in a smaller conflict zone.”

It will also reduce the lane width, acting as a passive form of speed enforcement as it encourages drivers to be more aware of their surroundings. 

The removable curbs will not impact drainage in the area, and unlike measures such as speed bumps, the curbs will not negatively impact those obeying the speed limit. According to the Town’s data, only 19 per cent of drivers speed in this area, so speed bumps are not recommended.

Yanke said that should council try them out, they not only help improve safety in the area, but are more cost-effective than a permanent installation.

“We do plan to collect more speed data once they’re installed,” said Yanke, adding they can install cameras to collect data. “It should be noted that this proposal isn’t intended, nor is it anticipated to resolve all of the speeding issues along Cottonwood Drive, but rather it should be considered as a tool to encourage drivers to slow down and be more aware of pedestrians, specifically at the mid-block crossing, with an emphasis on improving pedestrian safety at that location.”

The cost of installing these curbs is $7,500, with the funds coming from the Roads Operating budget for 2024. Coun. Jacen Abrey asked how this compared to the flashing lights they were having installed on Highway 845. Yanke said those quotes were about $20,000.

“Given how wide the road is, that is really, when drivers are coming down Cottonwood Drive, they’re really not paying attention. So, we feel even if there are flashing lights that the road is just so wide that it would be off to the side. It’s just an extra consideration we had, where the barrier forces drivers to pay attention to where they’re going a bit more, and ideally, slow them down.”

Council unanimously passed a motion to approve the request to install Traffic Calming Curbs at the mid-block crossing along Cottonwood Drive between the Highway 845 and 21 Street intersections as a means of enhancing pedestrian safety in the area.

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