Two upcoming road projects in east Vancouver received the green light to move forward with funding from the city’s Neighborhood Traffic Calming Program.
The projects, slated for the upcoming summer, are designed to slow down vehicles within the city’s residential areas, with the ultimate goal of increasing safety and livability.
“It’s just these two projects that made it through the program in 2019,” said Anna Dearman, the city’s senior planner in the Community and Economic Development department. “We have, basically, a preliminary project cost estimate.”
The first project will see the installation of two speed radar signs along Northeast Hearthwood Boulevard, between Northeast Seventh Way and Southeast First Street in the Airport Green and Hearthwood neighborhoods. The second will see improved crosswalk striping and signage at the intersection of Southeast McGillivray Boulevard and Southeast 136th Avenue.
This year, $270,000 was allocated to the program through a combination of general fund revenue, the real estate excise tax and street funding revenue.
The precise budget for the two projects has yet to be determined, Dearman said.
“It could fluctuate as the design is finalized,” she said. “As project costs change, and construction costs continue to increase, these can be surprisingly expensive.”
It’s unusual to only have two projects funded through the annual Neighborhood Traffic Calming Program grants, Dearman added. This year, the two proposals that received funding were the only ones to meet all of the qualifications for the program: submitted by a neighborhood, capped at $135,000, and limited to residential and collector arterial streets. Infrastructure and radar projects must also demonstrate support from surrounding residents, as well as a certain volume of traffic.
“This year, we had several applications that did not meet these warrants or thresholds,” Dearman said.
The two awards conclude the seventh year of the Neighborhood Traffic Calming Program as it exists today. Launched in cooperation between the city and the volunteer coalition Neighborhood Traffic Safety Alliance, the small-scale projects are meant to decrease speeds along smaller neighborhood roads.
“The very first origins of the program were in 2001,” Dearman said, when neighbors pushed to address car safety concerns “related to improvements to Mill Plain in east Vancouver. Since that time, the city has had a traffic calming program.”
The program fell victim to cuts during the Great Recession and was reinstated in 2013.
Recent projects made possible by the traffic calming program include speed bumps and radar signs on Northeast 141st Avenue, with funding awarded in 2018 and work completed earlier this year. The past year also saw speed cushions — speed bumps with built-in gaps to accommodate first responders’ vehicles — installed on 39th Street, Dearman said.