Few changes for Welles­ley roads

Re­gion to stay the course in town­ship in new trans­porta­tion master plan

The Woolwich Observer - - NEWS - FAISAL ALI

FROM DRIVERLESS CARS TO the in­creas­ing abun­dance of ride-shar­ing ser­vices like Uber, big changes are com­ing that will have a sig­nif­i­cant, if un­clear, im­pact on how the Re­gion of Water­loo plans fu­ture road­ways.

Those changes are be­ing taken into ac­count as the re­gion up­dates its trans­porta­tion master plan, which guides how trans­porta­tion would be han­dled in the re­gion un­til 2041.

Speak­ing to Welles­ley coun­cil­lors last week, Steve van De Keere, di­rec­tor for trans­porta­tion in the re­gion, said the re­gion ex­pects the most sig­nif­i­cant changes in the cities, while for the Town­ship of Welles­ley, the plan was to stay the course for the next sev­eral decades.

“Driverless cars are com­ing,” said van De Keere. “They’re al­ready test­ing them on On­tario high­ways, they’re be­ing tested heav­ily in the U.S., and so they are com­ing whether we like them or not. There’s good things and there’s po­ten­tially some chal­lenges with driverless cars.”

Po­ten­tially, the use of driverless cars could see fewer cars owned per fam­ily as mem­bers share the same ve­hi­cle. How­ever, how this would af­fect road traf­fic and con­ges­tion in the area re­mains to be seen.

“There’s some thought that they will ac­tu­ally cre­ate more traf­fic con­ges­tion rather than less,” van De Keere noted. “Because of if ev­ery­body had one, they could have it drive them to work and the car po­ten­tially could drive back home back by it­self. So now that’s two trips at the same time in the morn­ing in­stead of one trip. In­stead of driv­ing to work and park­ing.”

In the town­ship, the plan was to con­tinue to main­tain the ru­ral roads as they are, while in­creas­ing the amount of bi­cy­cling routes.

“In Welles­ley, there aren’t any ex­pan­sion projects in the master plan because there’s no sig­nif­i­cant growth iden­ti­fied that would re­quire ex­pan­sion of the roads, new roads or widen­ing ex­ist­ing roads,” said van De Keere.

“So ba­si­cally the plan for staff with re­spect to Welles­ley is to keep an eye on traf­fic vol­umes, look at strate­gic in­ter­sec­tion im­prove­ments, where they’re war­ranted. To keep an eye and make sure we ac­com­mo­date spe­cial ve­hi­cles, whether they be horse­drawn buggies or large farm equipment.”

In re­sponse to a ques­tion from Coun. Peter van der Maas, van De Keere said that the re­gion was con­sid­er­ing ways of im­ple­ment­ing a pub­lic tran­sit route in the town­ship. One pos­si­bil­ity, he said, was to sub­si­dize a ride-hail­ing ser­vice in the town­ship, such as Uber, rather than pro­vide a ded­i­cated bus or train route.

“It’s been tried in other cities in On­tario, I think

In­n­is­fil has im­ple­mented a sub­si­dized ride-hail­ing. So let’s say you want to take a ride to the GO sta­tion, the mu­nic­i­pal­ity ac­tu­ally sub­si­dizes the rider so they get a break on the Uber costs to take a ride to the GO Train sta­tion. Rather than pro­vid­ing a tran­sit ser­vice at great cost to ful­fill that same need. So that’s an in­no­va­tive way to sup­ply a ser­vice with­out in­vest­ing heav­ily in in­fras­truc­ture,” he said.

Other pos­si­bil­i­ties in­cluded an on-de­mand trans­porta­tion ser­vice by Grand River Tran­sit (GRT).

Mayor Joe Nowak ques­tioned if the Ki­wa­nis Tran­sit bus ser­vice could be ex­panded to Welles­ley, which van De Keere said was an op­tion.

“That could be pos­si­ble,” van De Keere. “It’s cer­tainly not go­ing to be as fast and con­ve­nient as a reg­u­lar route but it’s a good start.”

Nowak also ques­tioned van De Keere on four in­ter­sec­tions in the town­ship that he said were a ma­jor con­cern to res­i­dents. Those were the in­ter­sec­tions be­tween Her­gott and Lob­singer, Gerber and Queens Bush, Gerber and Nafziger, and Nafziger and Queens Bush. Nowak added that the Lob­singer in­ter­sec­tion in St. Cle­ments was more of an im­me­di­ate con­cern with the ad­di­tion of a fac­tory in the area.

Van De Keere noted that the in­ter­sec­tions had been as­sessed but did not have suf­fi­cient traf­fic to war­rant sig­nals. How­ever, he said they could per­form another count in St. Cle­ments next year to take into ac­count the traf­fic from the fac­tory.

Steve van De Keere

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