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Getting around Guelph may soon be a little easier

Staff propose new Transportation Master Plan that seeks to improve connections, get people out of vehicles and enhance safety, among other things
cyclist
File photo

City officials have set their sights on reducing traffic congestion, increasing active transportation and preparing for emerging technologies/trends such as vehicle sharing, drones and autonomous vehicles.

Those are among the priorities to be established through the proposed new Transportation Master Plan (TMP), which is the subject of an upcoming special council meeting.

“The COVID-19 global pandemic has reinforced the importance of considering our community’s public health and resiliency in the design and planning of our transportation infrastructure,” states a staff report outlining the draft plan. 

“It is imperative to design our roads to protect all road users equitably, but particularly those most vulnerable to critical injury or death on our roadways. In terms of climate change, the TMP needs to set a sustainable path forward to reducing our dependency on fossil fuels and achieving our net zero carbon goal by 2050.”

The societal costs of collisions in the city exceed $100 million annually, the report notes.

Through the new master plan, city officials seek to establish a “vision zero” approach to future road design and operation, following a traffic safety initiative based on the philosophy that no loss of life is acceptable on city roads; commit to creating a transportation system to support a “net zero carbon future” and improve connectivity across various modes of transportation; and develop systems to address road congestion, access, transit properties and curbside management such as passenger and goods drop-off zones; and create a new Pedestrian Master Plan.

The plan would also see the non-auto modal share target, which includes all daily trips made without automobiles, set at 42 per cent by 2051.

Also included are plans to build a protected cycling network that also supports people using things such as e-scooters, unicycles and more.

Council is set to discuss the draft plan during a Jan. 24 special meeting, which begins at 6 p.m. and will be streamed live at guelph.ca/live.

The cost to design and implement complete and connected roads moving forward, as laid out in the master plan, could be up to seven per cent above the average cost of road reconstruction costs this year and reach up to a total of $26 million over 10 years, city staff say. The long-term cost to maintain roads is estimated at $376,200 annually by 2031.

“The driver of this cost difference is due to enhancing the level of service standards (better quality of design),” the staff report states, noting the example of road improvements within the cycling spine network would be required to include fully protected cycling lanes when they may not have otherwise been required.

“By investing in the TMP, council is actively reducing the societal health care costs by reducing collisions, increasing active transportation health benefits, and contributing to greenhouse gas emissions reductions,” the report adds. “Delivering the TMP presents the stacked benefit of addressing multiple strategic priorities of the community.”

The operating impact is expected to reach $376,200 annually by 2031.

The deadline to register as a delegate or make a written submission for the Jan. 24 meeting is Jan. 21 at 10 a.m. To register, visit guelph.ca/delegation, call 519-837-5603 or email clerks@guelph.ca.