Trans Canada Highway Traffic – A Tough Nut to Crack

It’s been a long-standing problem for Salmon Arm to resolve … and the dilemmas certainly continue. Most proposed adjustments for the heavy east-west traffic flow of the Trans Canada Highway invariably impact the north-south traffic flow for accessing downtown Salmon Arm and its businesses and thus the downtown’s overall viability.

In Jan 2013, city council received the ICBC report TCH Coridor Safety Study that contained a number of TCH-specific traffic mitigation recommendations. Each of them would have an impact on both TCH and downtown traffic patterns.

Some key points of that study were …

  • Maintain Status Quo
  • Extend TCH Raised Median at McLeod Street
  • Re-locate Signal from Ross Street to 4 Street
  • Extend TCH Raised Median at Ross Street
  • Restrict Left Turn from 6 Street Southbound

Letters subsequently sent to the city by the Salmon Arm Economic Development Society, Downtown Salmon Arm and the Chamber of Commerce, have raised numerous and notable concerns.

From SAEDS (July 24 2013: pages 8-9 in Informational Correspondence August 12 2013)

However, the Board noted the study does not consider the impact these proposed improvements would have on downtown businesses, nor does it align with long term community plans. The Board is concerned that this study acts as a stand alone document, when in fact the implications of the recommendations are far reaching.

From Downtown Salmon Arm (pages 9-10 from the same Informational correspondence):

The Board of Directors are in support of the following aspects of the recommendations provided: pedestrian countdown timers, access awareness, and pedestrian network improvements. Support was recognized for the access management changes to the TCH south side at First St SE to extend the curb or explore other similar options. The Board also supports the recommended changes to the traffic light pattern at Shuswap Street.

and a bit further along:

No consideration has been given to the impact many of the proposed changes would have on the traffic flow and economic stability of the downtown community, and as such, the Board of Directors are unanimous in their opposition to the proposed changes to access management (street closures) for the following intersections: 6th St NE, 4th St NE and Ross St, and McLeod
St. These proposed changes would reduce incoming access to the downtown by 33% and would reduce outbound access from the downtown by a full SO% – not acceptable.

In such challenging economic times, our city administration and staff must understand that a number of our downtown businesses are struggling to stay operational and their potential loss from the community would be detrimental to our community as a whole. We would assert that our community leadership should be doing everything possible to support increased traffic into our downtown, not be entertaining ways to divert traffic flow from our economic core.

From the Aug. 26 2013 Informational correspondence (page 2) is the following Aug. 6th letter from the Salmon Arm and District Chamber of Commerce .

The Board of the Salmon Arm and District Chamber of Commerce supports the recent Downtown Salmon Arm and Salmon Arm Economic Development Society responses of disagreement with the City of Salmon Arm regarding the changes to the street accesses off the TransCanada Highway Corridor.

As one of our board members commented, “This is an insurance company’s analysis and has little or no consideration for the impact that changes to traffic patterns have on consumers and businesses”.
Safety should always be a primary consideration when it comes to pedestrian and vehicle traffic on the TransCanada Highway but to do a proper review of this both business owners and residents should be
provided the opportunity for input.

Now, there wasn’t any public council discussion over this correspondence at either of these two council meetings that I was at other than one comment that the city needed to be cautious in considering traffic flow changes.

Lorne Reimer over at the Friday AM has started to print some  out-of-the-box ideas to promote discussion. The Smart Growth Study – sponsored by CASSSA – also had some ideas about the traffic conundrum. I’d post a link to those Smart Growth documents on the city’s website but I can’t find them now after the city re-designed their website. I’ll keep looking.

But for now though, your more-than-pedestrian thoughts on balancing the TCH traffic dilemma?

Author: Tim Lavery

Aim High Salmon Arm It matters

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