In the end it was deferred, but city councillors spent a long time this week debating the merits of spending $100,000 on a pedestrian crossover on Van Horne Street at Shaunessey Street.
At issue was the cost, the fact that pedestrians could cross at the lights within 150 feet of the crossover and the fact city staff would likely use it as they left work to get to the nearby parking lot.
Members of the operations committee already had a long debate about the project Monday, that carried over into Tuesday's city council meeting.
Joe Rocca, the city's traffic and asset manager, told councillors that normally, crossovers cost $37,000. At this intersection, however, they would need to spend $20,000 for curb improvements, 20,000 on sidewalks, $4,000 on manholes and catch basins and $15,000 on asphalt repairs.
“That brings us to the $100K estimated in the report,” Rocca said.
For an intersection to be considered for a crosswalk, he said at least 100 pedestrians have to cross in an hour, between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. At that location, the busiest hours saw 509 pedestrians cross, of whom 300 were estimated to be city staff.
At 209 people, excluding staff, “that’s much busier than other locations where we have installed pedestrian crossover,” Rocca said.
“There are a significant number of people who use this crosswalk who are not city staff.”
Ward 8 Coun. Al Sizer said he liked the way the crossover on Brady Street has improved safety, especially when there's an event at Sudbury Arena and there's heavy pedestrian traffic trying to cross the road.
“I would assume that would spill over to the Shaunessey crossover when we have an event,” Sizer said. “And the actual crossover is only $37,000. The other work has nothing to do with the crossover.”
He also liked the fact the area would receive an upgrade, and he said downtowns across the city should receive these types of upgrades.
“There should be beautification around our town centres,” he said.
And Ward 12 Coun. Joscelyne Landry-Altmann said she was opposed to the plan until she spent some time there. She saw vulnerable people crossing — some in scooters — to access services in the nearby Samaritan Centre.
“And this presentation (from Rocca) answered a lot of questions,” Landry-Altmann said.
But Ward 11 Coun. Bill Leduc said it makes no sense to put the crossover in a spot where a lighted intersection is so close.
“I want people to walk, but we're talking about 150 feet in either direction,” Leduc said. “We’re creating a shortcut for 300 employees to use to get to the parking lot.”
Plus there's heavy vehicle traffic there that would be affected.
“We have 3,200 cars travelling this road, and we're now going to (impede) that traffic moving through there,” Leduc said. “I’m still not going to support this today.”
Ward 9 Coun. Deb McIntosh, who said she was in support, wondered whether construction of the art gallery and library on Shaunessey would affect the crossover. She asked interim community development GM Ian Wood whether the curbs would be torn up again when the projects are built.
While he hadn't studied the question specifically, Wood said there was a high risk that could happen.
“I would say the odds are pretty good,” he said.
And with that, after more than 40 minutes of debate, a decision was deferred until the second quarter of 2020.