The Arcola Avenue Corridor Study, commissioned by the City of Regina, laid out a sweeping list of proposed improvements to southeast Regina’s roadways during Wednesday’s session of executive committee.
An independent study by engineering consulting firm KGS Group, outlined several improvements and expansions to the major roadways surrounding Arcola Avenue – amounting to a total estimated cost of $76 million.
The proposed improvements were broken down into five major points in the study:
- Intersection operational and safety improvements along Arcola Avenue totaling $4.6 million in short term fixes and an additional $12.5 in the long term.
- A southern extension to Prince of Wales Drive – combining it with Wascana Parkway: $27.8 million.
- A northbound ramp on the Assiniboine Avenue East interchange: $1.3 million.
- An expansion to the Arcola Avenue interchange to six lanes as well as improved pathways and sidewalks: $20.2 million.
- A further six lane expansion to Arcola Avenue from the interchange to Woodland Grove Drive: $9.6 million.
Safety was a key topic in the study. Bruce Bellmore, transportation department Head at KGS Group, presented the study to council and pointed out the highlights of the five years of data that were compiled.
“There were 639 collisions reported to police on Arcola Avenue between Park Street and Chuka Boulevard for the five years between 2016 and 2020,” Bellmore explained.
“Collisions tend to spike in the morning peak and afternoon peak which is typical when you have traffic congestion.”
Of the 639 collisions, 20 per cent lead to injuries. No fatalities were recorded during the study.
A fast tracked plan includes adding double left turning lanes at all major intersections.
“Adding some double left turns which would be fully protected so it adds us an element of safety plus it increases capacity of the intersections,” said Bellmore.
The neighborhoods that access Arcola Avenue currently house around 30,000 people. That number is expected to rise to 40,000 in population estimates that predict Regina’s population growing to 300,000.
The study outlined that approximately 3,100 vehicles per hour currently travel eastbound during the afternoon peak on Arcola Avenue.
The $27.8 million extension of Prince of Wales Drive is expected to attract over 1,300 vehicles per hour during the afternoon peak hour today and up to 2,000 vehicles per hour by 2040 according to the study.
Congestion and safety concerns were top of mind for Mayor Sandra Masters and motivated committee to accelerate the time frame on the proposed projects.
“There was a discussion around bringing a supplementary report back to budget in the fall, with regard to advancing some of that work so it wasn’t happening in the 10-15 year stretch but moving into the five to 10 year stretch,” Masters said during a post-committee scrum.
“Just highlighting the importance that we have 30,000 folks who live out in the east and their access getting into the city and in and around and out of the east, is of significant importance. The failure, in the report, of a lot of those intersections from a safety perspective is just unacceptable.”
According to the city’s agenda, many of the projects and much of the design work is expected to be included in the 2023 and 2027 capital budgets as the city moves forward on the improvements.