Jeff Heuchert email@example.com
Barring any unforeseen problems that arise during a trial period, St. Andrew Street will likely become one-way between Church and Birmingham streets in 2015.
The downtown roadway, which serves as the main access point for visitors to the library, St. Andrew's church, the Stratford Perth Archives, and the courthouse, will direct traffic south towards St. Patrick Street and will be widened to accommodate 20 angled parking spaces on the north side, nine more then are currently there. Two of those will be accessible-only.
The cost of the project, an estimated $77,400, will be set aside in next year's budget, but the plan is for staff will prepare signage and public notification about the directional change by this fall.
"We want to give the public time to comment on any concerns they have," director of infrastructure and development services, Ed Dujlovic, said at Monday's council meeting.
Council will have an opportunity to reconsider the street changes next year before committing dollars should any issues arise, he added.
The anticipated changes come after calls for more parking on the busy street while improving access for emergency vehicles. Currently, the road accommodates two-way traffic and is nine metres wide, with 11 parallel parking spaces on the north side, none of which are for accessible parking. Parallel parking is permitted on the south side of the street but only on Sundays. However, when cars are parked on both sides of the street, the remaining road width is less than what's required for emergency vehicles.
Dujlovic said he has spoken with the library and they are supportive of the project.
"They're happy to get additional parking. It's something there's a need for," he added.
Coun. Kerry McManus added the additional parking spots would be welcomed news to the Masonic Concert Hall, located a few steps away on Church Street, as well, and Coun. George Brown noted eliminating eastbound vehicles coming off of St. Andrew would also create less confusion around the Church and Huron/Ontario intersection.
The widening of the street will move the sidewalk on the north side to the property line, and will require permission from the adjacent property owners to create a grassed slope on their property to deal with the existing grades. Additionally, five trees will need to be removed and one hydro pole relocated.
Speaking against the proposal, Coun. Frank Mark said the extra vehicles at the Birmingham and St. Patrick intersection will be a safety concern.
Mark preferred an alternative presented by staff that would create the same number of parking spaces by adding parallel spots to the north and south, but keep the street two-way. That option would be simpler to construct, have not impact on trees or hydro poles, and would cost about $30,000 less.
However, engineering staff advised against parallel parking on the street, noting it would affect sight lines and make it difficult for passengers to enter vehicles from the road. Coun. Bonnie Henderson also noted that under the alternative there is one less accessible parking spot, and that passengers getting out on the north side would have to contend with a slope.