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Consultant recommends major traffic changes for Dogwood Street

A traffic consultant is recommending reducing the number of lanes on Dogwood Street by half, adding dedicated bike lanes, and a centre left-turn lane.

City council got a first look Tuesday at a draft version of the Dogwood Corridor Study, prepared by a Victoria consulting firm. The report recommends a so-called “road diet” for Dogwood Street.

That would mean reducing the street from four lanes to two, with a dedicated left-turn lane down the middle. The consultant also suggests adding one-way bike lanes on either side, seperated from vehicles by a curb. It recommends getting rid of the split phasing for traffic lights, which currently forces north and southbound traffic to proceed independently, and replace the lights with standard phasing with timed left-turn lights.

Melissa Heidema, the city’s transportation specialist, presented the draft plan and study at a Committee of the Whole meeting Tuesday. She says the current setup has been in place on Dogwood since 2009 and is supposed to create a wave of green lights for drivers at peak times.

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“You’re supposed to get a ‘green wave’ northbound in the morning, and a ‘green wave’ southbound in the afternoon,” she says. “It’s very fussy to get exactly right for a number of technical reasons, and it’s never quite worked perfectly.”

She says the recommended “road diet” will be safer, and will be better for afternoon traffic than the current configuration. She also confirms, after questioning from Coun. Ron Kerr during Tuesday’s meeting, that it does not make allowances for pullouts for public transit buses.

Coun. Sean Smyth says he would like to see more consideration given to the city’s growing density, which will increase traffic.

“Whenever you increase density, you’re going to increase traffic. Increased traffic and active transportation don’t mix really well, and that’s my concern with the ‘diet’ of Dogwood,” he says. “If you want to see frustrated drivers, condense them down and have them share a congested road with cyclists. It doesn’t work well.”

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Smyth says bike lanes would be better on less busy roads, including McPhedran and Birch, while maintaining traffic flow on Dogwood Street. He adds that Birch and McPhedran are currently busy with traffic trying to avoid the Dogwood lights, and if the city can improve traffic flow on Dogwood, the side streets will become less busy.

“I think that should be the goal, the plan,” he says.

The city will now seek public feedback on the study and other proposed changes to the Master Transportation Plan, including a new bike lane proposed for Birch Street. It will be back before council in September.

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