Wawa Council Receives Presentation on Road Studies

Wawa Municipal Council received an extensive review of several road and traffic-related issues in the community Tuesday night.

Kresin Engineering had been tasked with four recent studies: a look at proposed changes to Mission Road lanes and pedestrian crossings; downtown pedestrian crossing and accessible parking; the school area; and Queen Street in the Mission.

Council heard that the Mission Road "road diet" - reducing it from the current four lanes of traffic, two each direction down to three lanes of one each direction and a turning lane with accompanying bike lanes - is "feasible with no expected operational impacts to vehicular users", with the study suggesting it could reduce the risk of certain types of collisions, reduce speeds seen on the road, and increase pedestrian and cyclist safety - asked by Councillor Bill Chiasson if the reduction in lanes would cause a problem with transport trucks stopped in the single traffic lane, it was suggested it should be "similar" to the current situation, though Chiasson disagreed.

As for pedestrian crossings along Mission Road, Council were told many current crossings and sidewalk ramps don't meet standards - some even misaligned - with non-standard signage - it recommends instead installing proper crossings with solar-powered push button-activated lights and appropriate signage.

Three candidate spots were highlighted - the intersections with Main Street, Magpie Road, and Winston Road - though the Main and Winston crossings were considered "preferred" as Main and Magpie are too close to each other.

The study of the downtown highlighted a major misconception: contrary to what is suggested by certain painted crossings, none are "controlled", meaning pedestrians do not have the right of way at any intersection along Broadway Avenue - though the study found many people cross anywhere anyway and it noted that the angled parking poses a problem for people trying to cross, blocking their view of oncoming traffic.

To remedy that, the study recommended curb extensions and raised the possibility of controlled crossings - like those proposed for Mission Road - and when Mayor Ron Rody raised possible issues with snow plowing, Council was told to think about usability for people, not plows.

While four accessible parking spots are marked in the downtown, the study raised concerns about their location on side streets, about, non-standard sizes, and about sidewalk ramps in the wrong spot - it recommended accessible parking on Broadway near major "pedestrian traffic generators", best constructed in pairs - Mayor Rody did raise concerns accessible parking would cut into what is already questionably low amounts of parking available, suggesting that would need to be considered.

In the school zone study, it was again noted that walkways, sidewalk ramps, and signage were inconsistent with standards, while there are a number of people walking on roads and many drivers performing "rolling stops".

It recommends officially setting the area as a 40 kilometer an hour zone, possibly only during certain hours - in-town roads default to 50 when unposted - and the study suggested improved sidewalks and ramps, signage, modified "intersection controls", renewed pavement markings, and possible parking restrictions - it also raised the possibility of "reallocating" the Churchill Avenue right-of-way so bike lanes could be added.

While a letter was received raising concerns about the crossing at McKinley and 3rd Avenue, Council was told it is not recommended to use 3 or 4-way stops to address pedestrians - as it can lead to common rolling stop-related issues if pedestrians are rarely there - and it was instead recommended a new crossing be put up elsewhere, and the path in Queen's Park also be changed so it doesn't imply the current crossing.

As for Queen Street in the Mission, it was noted there is really a "series of T-intersections", and Queen should actually be treated as the through-street.

Council have not agreed to any of the recommendations at this time, though the studies of Mission Road and the school zone were used for funding applications for related capital projects.