Council mulls multi-year plan to introduce traffic calming to streets running next to Prince Albert schools

The school zone speed limit around W.J. Berezowsky School has the dubious distinction of being the most frequently flaunted in the city.

According to a new report from Prince Albert’s transportation and traffic manager, the Berezowsky school zone is the only one in the city where average speeds from drivers exceed the posted speed limit by 10 km/hr when entering or exiting it.

Speed counts taken just outside the school zone show drivers hitting speeds of 50 km/hr on McIntosh Drive. The posted speed limit is 40 km/hr outside the school zone and 30 km/hr inside it. City administration plans to gather more data on why speeds are like inside the school zone in the future.

The findings brought a renewed push from city councillors to crack down on speeding near Prince Albert schools, although there was plenty of disagreement on how to go about doing it. Nevertheless, Mayor Greg Dionne vowed that something would be done.

“We know that raised crosswalks work,” Dionne said following Monday’s city council meeting. ”We have them at St. Francis (School) and (École) Vickers, so that should be our model and we should start installing them in all schools. We shouldn’t be fussy.”

City officials measured speeds in four Prince Albert school zones: St. Anne’s Catholic School, Riverside Public School, Vincent Massey School and Princess Margaret School. The highest average speed limit was at Vincent Massey, where drivers hit an average of 35 km/hr when heading past it on Third Avenue East. Princess Margaret saw the lowest average speed at 27 km/hr, while Riverside was second lowest at 30 km/hr.

A total of eleven other schools were monitored, although measurements were not taken in nearby school zones. Traffic is the fastest along Sixth Avenue East and 28th Steet East, which border Carlton Comprehensive High School. The average speeds are 55 km/hr and 53 km/hr respectively. The posted speed limit on those two streets is 50 km/hr.

St. John Community School, École Arthur Pechey Public School, École Valois, and Prince Albert Collegiate Institute (PACI) were the only schools where drivers are going at or below the posted speed limit.

In general, however, city administrators say speeding is not a problem.

“While there are a few areas around schools where there are concerns with speeding, in general the speed limits are not exceeded,” the report reads.

Council is in the process of working on a timeline for which schools receive traffic calming devices, although any changes are likely years away. In order to install any traffic calming devices, whether speed bumps or raised crosswalks, the city would need more data, such as the amount of pedestrian traffic, while also receiving a petition of support from local residents.

Council as a whole was eager to stop studying the project and work to get something done.

“If this is a priority, then let’s stop talking about it and put a program in place where for a number of years we can get that addressed,” Ward 8 Coun. Ted Zurakowski said. “(Traffic calming) should be the standard, in my view, in all of our elementary schools.”

“Let’s get this done rather than sit on it,” added Ward 5 Coun. Dennis Orgodnick, another vocal proponent.

There were some concerns over which schools should receive attention first. However, Dionne said as long as the city is addressing the issue, he doesn’t think residents will worry about where they start.

“If you have a program and (residents) know it’s coming, they’ll be patient,” he said.

City administration files reports on the average speeds in or near Prince Albert school zones twice a year.

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