Permanent concrete traffic calming features are coming to Moray Street in Port Moody, after the city deemed its pilot project a success.
The city’s pilot project began in July 2022, and council unanimously voted for more permanent designs to be created on Tuesday, June 13.
“Prior to the traffic calming, it was treacherous for my family and I to walk along Moray, let alone cross it,” said one resident who spoke during the public input period. “With cars speeding constantly, it was as though we were living beside a highway.”
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Speed and safety issues have long been identified as a problem along the busy collector road. Approximately 7,000 vehicles travel daily along the steep road linking Port Moody and Coquitlam.
In February, 2021, the city resolved to review and prioritize traffic calming initiatives along the street which led to studies, public consultations and a pilot project.
Staff cited ICBC data which showed that between 2017 and 2021, 26 vehicle incidents occurred along Moray Street and its intersections (excluding St. Johns Street).
These include two incidents where pedestrians were struck in 2019 and 2020, staff noted, adding that a large number of incidents involved parked vehicles.
Traffic speeds were measured in 2020, finding that a majority of vehicles were travelling well over the 30 kilometres speed limit.
The pilot project was given a budget of $75,000 for safety features between St. Johns Street and Brookmount Avenue.
These included new paint lines and centre medians, white plastic delineators, yellow plastic curbs, concrete letdowns, crosswalk signage, pedestrian-activated flashing lights, and a temporary sidewalk at Pinda Drive.
Staff said that these features have led to a “significant” reduction in vehicle speeds, without reducing traffic volumes.
Speeds were reduced by an average of five to six kilometres, or around 10 percent, according to staff.
“We’ve done traffic calming on other collector roads and not seen that same level of change, but that’s also because it’s a little more drastic,” staff said.
The public consultations, while largely supportive of increasing safety on the road, did raise several concerns regarding the temporary features.
Local residents complained the traffic features were unattractive, and potential obstacles for larger vehicles used for emergency services, garbage collection and snow clearing.
Staff acknowledged the lane width and geometry did cause some challenges for snow plows last winter, but added it wasn’t a big enough problem to warrant removal of the features.
Some residents claimed that new traffic features were ineffective, difficult to navigate, and made driving less safe during the winter months.
One resident speaking, during public input, complained the pilot’s features unevenly benefited safety on the east side of Moray at the expense of west side residents.
“We had a car actually veer off the road and smash into the townhouses west side on a rainy day trying to avoid some of these cones,” the resident said. “Now when I pull out my car it’s completely blind.”
But staff said the data does not support claims related to decreased safety, noting monthly meetings are held between the transportation committee and the Port Moody Police department.
“(Police) did not provide us with any feedback that I recall during those meetings regarding incidents occurring as a result of the Moray Street pilot,” staff said.
Other residents raised concerns over the loss of cycling facilities, and that the features made cycling less safe.
Staff said that many of these issues could be addressed in the permanent design.
Coun. Callan Morrison, who chairs the city’s transportation committee, said many of the issues stem from the installed features not being permanent.
“I can say that there is no absolute perfect solution, there is none. But to go back to a scenario where there is actually a decrease in safety does not make sense, either,” Morrison said.”A 10 percent reduction in the speed limit on that hill, that’s huge.”
The design phase for the permanent features has been allocated another $75,000 in next year’s budget.
Staff note the development phase will take much longer, describing it as a “substantial construction project.”
“It could be several years until we’re feasibly able to start placing real concrete,” staff said.
Elements being considered include a new sidewalk for the west side of Moray Street, permanent concrete medians, a permanent crosswalk at Pinda Drive, and improvements to street lighting.
For cycling, the city is considering features such as protected bike lanes or multi-use paths, and is working with the the City of Coquitlam to create more active forms of transportation.
Conceptual designs for permanent calming features along Moray Street originally estimated a construction cost of $720,000 back in March, 2022.
Mayor Meghan Lahti pointed out that council’s decision to endorse permanent features was just the start of a process, and there will be plenty more opportunity for more public input.
“It’s important for us to take the steps necessary to ensure that the concerns that have been raised by the people that live on that street are addressed,” Lahti said. “There will be consultation with the neighborhood to design something that is going to work for everybody.”