Charlottetown plans changes to University Avenue as it seeks public feedback
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CHARLOTTETOWN, PEI — The city of Charlottetown has some updates planned for one of its busiest streets.
On January 31, it held an open house at City Hall to gather feedback on some proposed changes for University Avenue, including the development of a multi-use active transportation route, the addition of grass strips between the sidewalks and the street, and improvements to the traffic flow.
Charlottetown Public Works Manager Scott Adams said the intersection of Belvedere Avenue and University Avenue was a particular problem area.
“This is one of the worst intersections in terms of vehicle collisions. So we want to make a big improvement by adding the right turn lanes and trying to reduce that anxiety for drivers trying to turn on the lights,” Adams said.
The open house raised safety concerns about cyclists and pedestrians sharing the three meter wide multi-use path.
“We would like to have our own bicycle lanes and pedestrian lanes. There just isn’t enough room to pull that off, so our best option right now is this multipurpose trail. And the goal is to encourage families to get out on bikes…instead of running their errands in a car,” Adams said.
The master plan also aims to add concrete medians to separate oncoming traffic, more lighting, and improved sidewalks and pedestrian crossings. In 2021, the plan was valued at over $14.5 million, but that figure doesn’t reflect inflation.
reactions of local residents
UPEI postgraduate student Mary Beth MacLean, who attended the open house to learn more about the project and contribute, asked if there would be benches along the active senior transportation corridor.
“I’ve been assured that there are plans for benches, although they’re not pictured,” MacLean said.
“The other thing I was worried about was adding all these new active modes of transportation when we have sidewalks that aren’t cleared now. So, I walked here from Sherwood today and nothing was cleared. … The streets are clear, so that’s a priority, but not the sidewalks.”
Charlottetown Mayor Philip Brown addressed some of these concerns, noting that more paved multi-use lanes, or active haul lanes, mean more lanes to plow and more staff.
“You have to look at your priorities, are you clearing your streets first or are you clearing your sidewalks so people can walk? As someone told me here tonight…a lot of injuries come from running. So if we don’t clear those avenues, we’ll run into a liability problem.”
It will take a long time
Brown has debated revitalizing University Avenue since 2004, when he was on the city council.
“It’s been going on for 20 years, we’re talking about it. Let’s take that conversation and put it into action,” he said.
“When I look at University Avenue, the number of vehicles increases. So we need to push active transport, we need to push transit, we need to push other ways to get people from point A to point B.”
UPEI student Max MacDonald liked what he saw at the open house, including the active transport route.
“As a cyclist, I like that. They said it should only be three meters wide, I think the width is ok for two ways. People seem nervous around bikes, but they don’t have to be — (they’re) a lot slower than cars, a lot less heavy,” MacDonald said.
“I think University Avenue is one of our main businesses. It should be changed to be more suitable for pedestrians than cars. You can fit more pedestrians in one area than cars, so it’s better for business.”
George Melitides is a second year student in the journalism program at Holland College.