The Smart City Initiative is how we can fix this problem, and I’m proud to be spearheading this project.Traffic congestion is a continual concern with St. Albertans. It is a concern with residents of every city in Canada, North America and the world. No one likes to wait in traffic.
St. Albert is a city that relies heavily on St. Albert Trail to move almost everyone in our city on a daily bases. Not only is it the main thorough fare through St. Albert heading to and from Edmonton it is also our one and only commercial corridor. Have you ever noticed every single major grocery store is near the Trail?
As our city grows we add about 1000 people a year, but we do not add more major roads. Ray Gibbon Drive was an expansion of our network and is well used but we still depend heavily on the commercial corridor of the trail. Without the capacity to widen the trail or the financial means to build more major roadways, we need to focus on improving the efficiency of the existing road network. This is done through improved technologies.
Before we start making decisions regarding traffic our city needs to clearly identify our priorities. Vision Zero is an initiative that began in Sweden that aims to have zero traffic fatalities or serious injuries on city streets; a lofty goal I feel St. Albert can aspire to.
“A core principle of the vision is that ‘Life and health can never be exchanged for other benefits within the society’ rather than the more conventional comparison between costs and benefits, where a monetary value is placed on life and health, and then that value is used to decide how much money to spend on a road network towards the benefit of decreasing how much risk.” (From <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vision_Zero>)
For example, the left-hand turn restrictions on St. Albert trail in 2014 was introduced for safety purposes. In August 2015, the City released its one-year statistics on Protected Only Left Turns on St. Albert Trail (May 2014 to April 2015).
- 0 fatalities
- Injury collisions reduced by 85 per cent
- Total left turn collisions on St. Albert Trail reduced by 55 per cent.<https://stalbert.ca/dev/engineering/transportation/left-turns/>
I completely believe in Vision Zero. Decisions surrounding the flow of traffic along the trail, and everywhere in St. Albert, need to put safety first. But we can still improve the efficient flow of traffic along St. Albert Trail.
During the 2017 budget deliberations I successfully put forward a motion entitled St. Albert Trail Corridor Traffic Signal Optimization (Intelligent Transportation Systems). (SATCTSO isn’t any easier to read, sorry.)
This exciting project is due to the new relationships established between St. Albert, The Smart City Alliance, Alberta Transportation and the University of Alberta. The city has connected all the lights along the trail, and will employ advanced connected vehicle technologies which will enhance monitoring capability and result in improved operations. This will minimize delay and driver frustration.
The exciting opportunities that Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) can bring to St. Albert are endless. These integrated technologies will save lives, time, money, energy and the environment. The congestion and safety problems in St. Albert’s transportation networks, combined with continued growth, the fiscal reality of restricted budgets, and environmental and land use constraints, require a shift in focus toward a more efficient use of the existing roads.