Cut the road and bridge in half, achieve savings and safety

We know our cash-strapped City wants to save some money, so we have an idea:

Rebuild Saskatchewan Drive between 109 Street and 104 Street for short and long term savings. This means reducing the scale of the Duggan Bridge Rehabilitation in the short term.

The City plans to rehabilitate Saskatchewan Drive over the coming years, replacing the current road with a similar, albeit upgraded, design. The first piece of this rehabilitation will occur with the replacement of the Duggan Bridge (which is between 108 St NW and 106 St NW along Saskatchewan Drive). This bridge replacement is planned and funded for completion over the next few years.

Duggan Bridge along Saskatchewan Drive with a view of Downtown (via Google Maps)

As a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the City re-allocated space along this same portion of Saskatchewan Drive as part of the Shared Streets and Lane Closures Initiative. Instead of the street only moving drivers and fearless cyclists, it became a stretch of street that moves trucks, cars, bikes, scooters, tricycles, wheelchairs, and pedestrians safely.

Even though space that is typically dedicated to moving vehicles was re-allocated to people getting around actively, there was not a traffic nightmare. Quite the opposite.

The posted speed limit of 40 kph made the street feel safer for all using it. The reclaimed portion of the roadway was swarmed with cyclists, scooters, pedestrians, and other active road users. The important part for many Edmontonian drivers is that the street still worked effectively for vehicles. The narrowed roadway still conveyed high traffic volumes without significant delay.

It’s not just that it will become a safer street. By reducing the width of the Saskatchewan Drive Rehabilitation project from two lanes for vehicle travel, to one lane, the City will save money too. Building the bridge and road for only one driving lane and shifting the shared-use path to where the northside lane is envisioned will reduce the amount of infrastructure being built, lowering construction and maintenance costs. It will also remove the need to build an expensive cantilevered shared-use path structure at Saskatchewan and 105 St.

Cantilevered shared-use path structure at Saskatchewan Drive and 105 St (via City of Edmonton Plans)
Saskatchewan Drive and Duggan Bridge Re-allocated Street in October 2020 (via Paths for People)

We already know what the end state could look like based on what existed this summer. We also have the numbers to back up that this redesign would not increase congestion for vehicles in the long term. Former Board Member and Transportation Engineer Marcel Huculak has developed a report that studies this corridor. Please download it to learn about the technical aspects of the proposed changes. It identifies a design that balances the needs of vehicles and people getting around actively to ensure it is a safer street for all users.

The City may say it’s too late to change the project. But it wasn’t too late to roll back the E-Bike grant. That decision saved $100,000. This decision, to narrow the road and bridge, would save more. 

And in the interim, can’t we keep the pylons up for as long as possible?

Edmontonians have already had a taste of what Saskatchewan Drive could be like.

During times like these, when many are hungry for savings, Paths for People calls upon the City of Edmonton to ensure the design of Duggan Bridge and Saskatchewan Drive creates cost savings and a safer street.