Major roadway projects have just been completed in Lethbridge — or they’re well underway.
So nothing that substantial will be needed in the next three years, city council learned Monday. And there’s no urgency to build a third bridge across the river, city transportation manager Darwin Juell reported.
But an up-to-date traffic control system should be installed to improve flow on major arteries like Mayor Magrath Drive, he said. And planning should begin to boost capacity at two of the city’s busiest junctions, on Whoop-Up Drive at both University Drive and Scenic Drive.
“Capacity is an issue on Whoop-Up Drive,” Juell told council, meeting as its finance committee. By boosting capacity at both of those intersections, he said, funds should not be needed for a new bridge for at least a decade.
Over that period, he said, planners expect more Lethbridge residents will use alternative forms of transportation — not just one person to a car. Juell said the city’s new Transportation Master Plan, to be presented to council next week, will outline how that’s predicted to happen.
“Transportation is becoming more multi-modal,” he said.
With work now well advanced on projects like the northern Scenic Drive extension and the Mayor Magrath widening over Six Mile Coulee, Juell told council there’s just a short list of recommended roadway upgrades for the next few years.
Council is expected to consider them next spring as part of its investment in transportation over the following three years, as part of its next Capital Improvement Plan. They’ll include paving Whoop-Up Drive to the western city limits and 43 Street N. — eventually, a link to the Highway 3 bypass — to a rural roadway standard.
About $1.4 million will be recommended for traffic signal improvements over a three-year period, Juell said. Some of the current computer-based control equipment is 20 years old, he pointed out.
“It can’t communicate with the other controls,” making it difficult for traffic engineers to reduce congestion.
Juell said first priority for the new computerized controls will go to Mayor Magrath Drive, 13 Street North and South, and 6 Avenue S. from Scenic to Mayor Magrath.
Intersection improvements will also be recommended for locations like 13 Street and 5 Avenue N. as well as 16 Avenue S., Mayor Magrath at 2 Avenue N., and on 36 Street at 5 and 9 Avenues N.
More bicycle lanes and mixed-use trails will also be recommended, Juell said. Dedicated bike lanes are planned for 3 Avenue S. — all the way from Mayor Magrath to Scenic — as well as 9 Avenue N. west from 13 Street, and downhill from Mayor Magrath to Scenic on either 9 or 10 Avenue S.
Juell said a study will be important before further bike routes are designated. While recreational riders enjoy looping trails, he said, people who commute to work or studies by bike need direct routes.
About $3.6 million will be earmarked for roadway overlays and similar maintenance work on busy streets, he said. About $900,000 worth of sidewalk repairs or replacement will also be needed, including another 40 to 50 barrier-free ramps at intersections.
And about $1.8 million will be recommended for improvements to the city-owned industrial rail lines through the northside industrial parks. Some rails are 40 years old, Juell said, and they’ve caused derailments.
The city recently installed railway crossing lights at 10 industrial park locations, he said, and other 11 will be needed for improved safety.