Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Funding from photo radar cameras could speed up installation of traffic lights on rural Ottawa roads

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Getting traffic lights installed on rural roads is a lengthy and costly process, Ottawa city staff say, but the cash generated by photo radar cameras could help speed it up.

Coun. George Darouze, chair of the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, had asked staff about plans to install traffic lights at 19 different intersections in the city’s rural wards; specifically, which intersections, how long those intersections have been waiting, and how much it would cost.

To the latter, the answer is not cheap.

“Staff have estimated that a high-level amount of approximately $65 million in 2024 dollars is required to implement traffic signals or roundabouts at the warranted locations in rural areas,” the response, prepared for the April 4 meeting said. “This high-level cost estimate includes design and construction however; the estimate does not include potential property acquisition costs.”

Staff identified 13 intersections in rural-designated wards and six intersections that are in rural areas in other wards. These intersections represent more than half of the 36 locations across the city waiting for traffic lights to be installed.

Some of these intersections have been approved for lights for years, but still don’t have them. The average time the 19 intersections have been in the queue for traffic lights is 5 years, 9 months. The intersection of Roger Stevens Drive and Nixon Drive at River Road was warranted for lights just last October, but the intersection of Eagleson Road and Flewellyn Road was approved in May 2008, nearly 16 years ago.

The main issue holding them back is funding.

“If the existing 19 rural locations were prioritized for signal installation city wide, and the funding source was limited to an annual investment of approximately $2.7 million (in 2024 dollars) from the New Traffic Control Devices (NTCD) program, it would take approximately 24 years to retrofit all intersections with the warranted traffic controls,” staff said.

Steps have been taken to speed this process up, however. The city’s Road Safety Action Plan (RSAP) provides supplemental funding to the traffic control devices program, to the tune of $3 million in 2024. If that extra cash were to continue, staff say it could cut the time required to install traffic lights at the intersections to 11 years, and the extra cash brought in by photo radar could potentially speed up the process even more.

“With increasing automated speed enforcement revenues, annual RSAP investments in the NTCD Program to address warranted intersections will continue to increase over the coming years. Increased funding will help expedite timelines to retrofit warranted locations with needed traffic control signals,” said staff.

Ottawa’s photo radar cameras issued a record 220,789 speeding tickets, bringing in more than $14 million in revenue.

Staff noted, however, that the number of locations approved for traffic lights will grow over the years and the priority list for installation is updated annually.

“Once a location meets the minimum warrants for traffic signals, it is added to the New Traffic Control Devices (NTCD) Program list of warranted traffic signals. The list is prioritized based on several factors including level of warrant criteria met, collision rates, Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT) volumes, roadway speed and environment,” staff said. “The ranking of each warranted location can fluctuate over time as new traffic data is collected and reassessed and as new locations become warranted. The priority list includes all warranted traffic signal locations, whether in urban, suburban, or rural areas.”

Intersections waiting for lights

The following is the list of the 19 rural intersections approved for traffic lights and the year they were first approved.

Donald B. Munro Drive / Old Carp Road at March Road, 2022

Anderson Road at Leitrim Road, 2017

Leitrim Road S at Ramsayville Road, 2022

Mer-Bleue Road W at Navan Road, 2018

Milton Road at Navan Road, 2017

Apple Orchard Road/Parkway Road at Stagecoach Road, 2022

Bank St at Dalmeny Road, 2022

Boundary Road at Mitch Owens Road, 2022

Hawthorne Road at Rideau Road, 2016

Roger Stevens Drive/Nixon Drive at River Road, 2023

Snake Island Road at Stagecoach Road, 2022

Barnsdale Road at Rideau Valley Drive, 2017

Eagleson Road at Flewellyn Road, 2008

Carling Avenue at 320 m east of March Road, 2017

Conroy Road at Queensdale Avenue, 2015

Conroy Road N & S at Davidson Road, 2015

Davidson Road at Hawthorne Road, 2017

Bridgestone Drive at Eagleson Road, 2016

Maple Grove Road at Silver Seven Road, 2017

–With files from CTV News Ottawa’s Josh Pringle.

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