City residents have voted to reduce Central Avenue to one lane of traffic as a way to create a more pedestrian friendly downtown.
Earlier this week, city administrators revealed the responses to a Central Avenue Streetscape Redevelopment survey asking residents to vote for one of four potential new designs for the area.
Option Three was the only one that called for Central Avenue to be cut down to one lane of traffic. It received 274 of the 675 votes cast. Option Three also calls for angled parking on one side of the street instead of the current system of parallel parking on both. It also creates more room for storefronts, walkways, patios and landscaping.
There is no guarantee the city will convert all of Central Avenue to single lane traffic, however the plan will be used as much as possible.
Ward 2 Coun. Terra Lennox-Zepp, who represents the downtown area, said there is an obvious desire for change in the downtown. Now it’s up to council get the ball rolling.
“(Residents) want the downtown to be more pedestrian friendly and they want to emphasize the unique character and unique history that our downtown has,” she said. “I think we are heading in the right direction.”
More than half of the survey respondents said they wanted more sidewalk, patio and café space on Central Avenue. In a report presented to council, administrators said the new design would reduce traffic flow through Central Avenue, but also turn the area into a destination.
Ward 3 Coun. Evert Botha, the former president of the Prince Albert Downtown Business Improvement District (PADBID), echoed those sentiments as well.
“I like the idea of more parking and bigger curbs or bigger boulevards and more space for individuals to be able to interact with the various businesses downtown,” he said. “To make our downtown corridor a lot more walkable, I think, is very important.”
A proposed project budget of $46,214.50 for the next phase passed at Monday’s executive committee meeting. However, the new plans won’t be drawn up until city council gives formal approval at budget deliberations this fall. That item also includes the Central Avenue “big dig” to replace the 100-year-old water and sewer infrastructure under the street.
Lennox-Zepp said it’s important for council to stay focused on both items as it heads into budget deliberations, and not get sidetracked by other issues.
“We never know how the votes will turn out,” she said. “I do see that the public wants this work to be done. The infrastructure under the ground, the water and sewer lines, are over 100 years old. Our engineers tell us that the work underground needs to be done to avoid major expensive future issues with the pipes … so I believe that the public is interested in seeing this made a priority.”