Spring has sprung, much like springs of the past have done. However, over last year the Midtown area has seen an increase in activity that will change the landscape of this part of the city for decades to come. With work on the 3rd portion of the Breithaupt Block project nearing an end at Wellington, Moore, and Breithaupt, Station Park springing up at King and Wellington, the Bright Building making progress between King and Glasgow, along with a walking tour of 152 Shanley St. (the former Electrohome site) a lot has transpired in our neighbourhood.
Back in June 2021, a few members of the Mt. Hope/Breithaupt Development Committee had met with some folks at the City of Kitchener traffic department to raise some concerns we had heard from residents around traffic within our neighbourhood. To learn more about that checkout our previous post.
Following up from our previous meeting we wanted to discuss with the City what some potential options were for the neighbourhood and how they might be able to help us address the concerns expressed.
The individuals we spoke with at the city followed up with our enquiries related to the Metrolinx traffic study done around the transit hub development. The study took into account 20 different developments, some already in a current state of development within the city as well as other known developments that were in the works. It was learned that there would not be a predicted dramatic increase in traffic in the area from the closure of Duke St. above the ambient background traffic. One recommendation that Metrolinx made to the Region is that the traffic light cycle at Weber St. could be elongated along Wellington St. to help move a higher volume of traffic.
Since our meeting, the City of Kitchener and the Region of Waterloo have uploaded the portion of Duke St. between Victoria St. to the railway tracks to the Region. Metrolinx plans to build a pedestrian way at Duke St. as well as a pedestrian underpass at the end of Waterloo St. Figure 1 shows the plans for the Waterloo St. underpass as part of the transit hub documents (KVTH – Drawing Package – 2020-11-19 (page 2) on EngageWR).
During our conversation we also discussed Wellington St. Wellington St. has been a big concern for many residents and the City is aware of the impacts it is having on those that live along the street, as well as the future traffic increases that might arise from all the developments within the area. With Wellington St. being a secondary arterial road, owned and maintained by the City of Kitchener, the road is crucial to moving traffic from one part of the City to another. Wellington St. lives in a weird state, where it is a core neighbourhood street lined with residences, but it is also an arterial road. As part of the City’s review of speed limits within residential areas Wellington St. is now slated to have its speed limit reduced to 40 km/hr.
However, until the street is up for renewal in the early 2030’s, the City is opposed to any physical changes to the roadway as that may impact utilities under the road’s surface as well as impede emergency vehicle manoeuvres. This also means that any traffic calming that is comprehensive, like vertical traffic calming measures such as speed humps or narrowing the curbs is out of the question. They recommend that residents check out the LoveMyHood Resident Lead Traffic Calming program for some resident lead solutions, such as:
- Painted crosswalks
- Roadway painting, like intersection murals
- Planter boxes on the boulevard
- Neighbourhood lawn signs
- Temporary or “pop-up” measures
- Alternative uses of parking space
Given that Wellington St. already has two narrow sidewalks on both sides of it, there is not much that can be done to separate pedestrians from automobile/truck traffic that is using the street.
They also wanted to introduce us to their new roadway planning strategy called Vision Zero, where their goal is to reduce traffic fatalities and serious injuries to zero. To learn more about Vision Zero checkout the City’s website at: https://www.kitchener.ca/visionzero.
On a final note, one of the active topics of discussion in and around the neighbourhood has been the activity at 152 Shanley St. in preparation for the remediation of the former Electrohome site. In March 2021, a report was released outlining the impact of traffic on the surrounding area streets. It was determined that there would be minimal impact on the area from not only the increased traffic from the site, but also including the increase in traffic within the study area. Part of their conclusions attribute this to the access residents at the site will have to transit and active transportation options, as well as the proximity to commercial and community amenities.