A pedestrian-activated traffic signal for trail users across Wentworth at Charlton will be funded by the Ward 2 area rating fund after voters picked it as a winning proposal in the participatory budget.
By Ryan McGreal
Published July 24, 2014
this article has been updated
For years, people have warned that the blind curve where Charlton Avenue East meets Wentworth Street is a deadly disaster waiting to happen. Last October, it happened: Zoe Nudell, a 33-year-old jogger who had just moved to Hamilton, was killed after being struck by a suspected drunk driver.
Charlton Avenue, on the left, curves into Wentworth Street (RTH file photo)
Visibility is very poor around the corner, which has a large enough radius that automobiles don't have to slow down much to make the turn. Compounding matters, the busy Escarpment Trail crosses Wentworth just north of the corner, so hikers, runners and cyclists regularly cross the street with no traffic controls.
After Nudell's tragic death, residents got an answer to the question: Does someone have to die before the City makes some changes to this corner? The answer, of course, is that even a death was not enough to spur the City to action.
So Ward 2 resident Art Dyck submitted a proposal to the Ward 2 Participatory Budget process to use some of the ward's area rating money, a capital fund available to old city wards, to make the necessary changes.
Wards 1 and 2 allocate their area rating monies using participatory budget systems in which residents can propose projects for consideration, and then the projects to be completed are selected by popular vote.
Dyck's proposal is to install a pedestrian-activated traffic light to control the intersection of Wentworth Street and the Escarpment trail.
The traffic control would be visible to drivers on Charlton heading east toward the blind corner to protect vulnerable road users crossing east-west on the trail.
View east toward Wentworth from Charlton (Image Credit: Art Dyck)
The proposal, priced at $150,000 to implement, was one of the 12 winning projects in the 2014 vote, along with reconstruction of the Escarpment Trail itself, priced at $86,000.
The timeline for implementation still has to be determined, but the installation should happen some time in 2015. The project design will then need to be finalized by Traffic Engineering staff before city workers implement it.
Karen Burson, the PB Ward 2 facilitator for 2014, contacted RTH to clarify that a pedestrian-activated light at Wentworth and Charlton is "one of a set of possible traffic calming methods" and that the final solution will be developed by City staff. Burson writes:
My colleague Nathalie Zur Nedden and I did our best to assist in the smooth idea transferral and the fleshing out of the ideas generated in our April and May community meetings. In my opinion, in all cases the [Budget Delegates'] solutions/proposals are excellent, and this is one of the most worthy ones for the community.
What the volunteer BDs will typically not have under the belts, however, is technical training to ensure the safety, cost-effectiveness, and consistency of their proposals with existing City policy and practices.
That's why in some cases the implementation of the proposals may differ from the residents(s)s' initial vision - from those who first proposed the ideas as community members to the Volunteer Delegates who did their best to bring their neighbours' visions to life.
So, although when Art wrote his well-researched and detailed proposal, and he specified that a pedestrian activated crosswalk was the best solution for Ward 2 residents, the actual proposal as written on the ballot reads this way:
Funds will be utilized to carry out the community's desire for pedestrian safety/traffic calming initiatives (supported by Council with recent unanimous approval) requesting staff-recommended improvements to the area.
The ballot item #19 doesn't actually specify the pedestrian activated light; such a solution is one of a set of possible traffic calming methods.
This is the reason I thought it was important to post this right above and right at the top off the summary of details from original delegate proposals. The note states that the document called "Detailed Project Descriptions for the Website" shows information gathered from the original project proposals as submitted by the team of volunteer Budget Delegates.
Some of the projects described on this year's ballot include the modifications that reflect the feasibility assessments that City of Hamilton staff conducted after those original proposals were written.
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