Mayor singles out Central Avenue in bid to cut down city’s traffic light count

Mayor Greg Dionne would like to see a few traffic lights like these two on Central Avenue taken down. -- Herald file photo.

Mayor Greg Dionne says he’d like Prince Albert to have fewer traffic lights, especially on Central Avenue.

Dionne made the comments following a presentation from Prince Albert’s engineering services manager Jeff Da Silva, who requested that council fund a new journeyman electrician position to help maintain the city’s 62 traffic lights.

Prince Albert currently has only one full-time Department of Public Works employee dedicated to fixing and maintaining traffic lights. If that employee needs additional help the city pulls employees from the Community Services Department.

Dionne didn’t dispute that the workload was too much for one person, however he said the city should look at reducing the number of lights as well as hiring more staff.

“We seem to put up traffic lights just willy-nilly,” Dionne said. “I remember when council took the extreme measure a few years ago and had the ones removed on Second Avenue. People don’t even notice they’re gone, so I think … the department should do an intensive review: do we need 60 traffic lights?”

Dionne’s main focus was Central Avenue, specifically the 11th Street East intersection, which he said doesn’t generate enough traffic to warrant a set of lights. However, he’d also like the city to conduct a review to find other quiet spots where lights aren’t necessary.

“At some point we have to review that and say, ‘enough is enough,’” Dionne said. “Let’s start clearing them out.”

While not all councillors are on board with creating another maintenance position, not everyone was eager to cut down on the number of lights either.

Some, like Ward 8 Coun. Ted Zurakowski, wanted more information before voting on a new position. Others, like Ward 2 Coun. Terra Lennox-Zepp, said the 2017 Transportation Master Plan already had the information needed to start taking down unnecessary lights. However, Lennox-Zepp was hesitant to remove any from Central Avenue before seeing how the new University of Saskatchewan campus affects foot and vehicle traffic.

Prince Albert’s 62 traffic lights are nearly double the number in Moose Jaw, another city with only one full-time maintenance position. Prince Albert also has more traffic lights per capita than Saskatoon, Regina and Red Deer.

Prince Albert’s Transportation Master Plan includes a review of all city traffic lights. Each intersection was scored on a point-based scale, with 100 points being the minimum threshold for warranting a traffic light. Anything less is “an indication that signals might not be necessary at that particular location.” According to the review, the four Central Avenue traffic lights at the 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th street intersections have scores of two, 13, 12 and two points respectively.

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Prince Albert had “more than double” the number of traffic lights as Moose Jaw. The Daily Herald apologizes for the error.