Changes coming to improve safety at six Prince Albert crosswalks

Prince Albert City Hall -- Herald File Photo

Six crosswalks around Prince Albert will be seeing improvements soon, after Council voted unanimously at Monday’s meeting to install new crossing treatments at several locations around the City.

The Department of Public Works performed a crosswalk safety study throughout the City of Prince Albert from November 2021 to April 2022 to determine crosswalk locations needing improvements in order to operate at a standard level of safety. 

The standards used in the study were taken from the Transportation Association of Canada (TAC): Pedestrian Crossing Control Guide of 2018. The Guide utilizes data such as traffic volume, traffic speed, pedestrian count, and road width to standardize crosswalk treatments used throughout Canada.

Recommendations were originally given to upgrade nine crosswalks, but three were removed after a discussion by Council concluded the changes were unnecessary. 

The crosswalks that will be receiving upgrades include:

  • 10th Avenue West at Victoria Hospital
  • 15th Avenue East near Helme Crescent
  • 6th Avenue East at 8th/9th Street East
  • 1st Avenue East at 8th Street East
  • 3rd Avenue East and 28th Street East 
  • 4th Avenue East at 22nd Street 

All locations will be installing the rectangular rapid flashing beacon (RRFB) treatment, except for 1st Avenue East at 8th Street East and 4th Avenue East at 22nd Street. Four out of six RRFB crossing upgrades were submitted for SGI Traffic Safety Grant Funding, the decision for grant acceptance will be made in the last week of June. 

The crossing at 4th Avenue East and 22nd Street currently utilizes a pedestrian half-signal treatment, which is recommended to be replaced with an overhead flashing beacon. This treatment is designed to overhang directly over the centerline of the roadway to ensure all motorists are alerted that a pedestrian is crossing the street.

The City will be replacing the pedestrian half-signal at the 1st Avenue East and 8th Street East crosswalk with a standard zebra crossing and pedestrian crossing signage. Councillor Terra Lennox-Zepp asked for this location to be tabled after receiving concerns from seniors living in the area, but the recommendation stayed after deliberations from Council. 

Wes Hicks, Director of Public Works, said the half-signal at the 1st Avenue and 8th Street East location was broken due to two water main breaks earlier this year. A new half-signal would cost the City approximately $45,000, whereas the new suggested treatment would cost only a few thousand dollars.

The crossing location has also seen a large decline in use since the removal of the CO-OP in 2011. An average of 2900 cars per day, with traffic speeds of 34 kilometres do not warrant crossing lights, according to TAC standards. 

According to Hicks, the rectangular rapid flashing beacons (RRFB) are very similar to emergency lights. 

“Studies have shown when you switch to these, they have a better response rate because people are suddenly facing these flashing lights,” he said. “They are very responsive and have been picked up by all the cities throughout North America and Europe. This is the new standard.”

The City of Saskatoon Transportation Division and the Prince Albert Police Service were consulted to determine the effectiveness of RRFBs. Both organizations showed their support for the treatments. 

The City of Saskatoon currently has 10 sets of RRFBs and has approved 10 more for installation in 2023. 

Residents in the City of Prince Albert should soon be expecting a statement from the Department of Public Works regarding crosswalk improvements and pedestrian half-signal removals. This statement will also include a public introduction to the safe use and benefits of RRFBs and their new locations within the City.