As our homeowners on Speedvale Ave E. should already know there is a large controversy over what form the Speedvale Ave E reconstruction will take. It is paramount that the underground infrastructure be replaced, making this road reconstruction a high priority. We have four plans put forth by City staff. If readers want a detailed description of each plan search for “Speedvale Ave. E Reconstruction” on the city web site.
There are four options. Option #1 costs $14,343,000; option #2 costs $14,184,000; option #4, the most expensive, costs $15,554,000; and Option #3, the least expensive, costs $9,139,900.
With options 1, 2 and 4 each homeowner on the north side of Speedvale Ave E loses 5 metres (16 feet) of property and homeowners on the south side lose 3 metres (10 feet). More will be lost at the intersection of Speedvale and Delhi to allow for turning lanes. A proposed new pedestrian bridge crossing the river at Emma and Earl Streets, that costs $1,130,000, is included in each option.
Bike lanes run from Victoria to Woolwich in option 1; option 2 has no bike lanes; option 4 has bike lanes from Victoria to Manhattan Cr. then south to Emma then west again to the proposed pedestrian bridge. Options 4 then resumes bike lanes on Speedvale at Riverside and across the new bridge to Woolwich St.
Staff have recommended option 4 with the highest cost to the taxpayer and the highest property loss for home owners.
Option 3, with a cost savings of more than $6,000,000 over option 4, has no home owner property acquisitions, no hydro relocation, and no new street lighting costs. It offers three lanes of traffic with bike lanes. The design of this option is called Road On A Diet. Roads using this approach are used in San Francisco, San Jose, California, Palo Alto, California, and Tampa Florida. In these cities, all much larger than Guelph, this type of road has proved to be safer. It slows traffic, reduces the number of cars using the road and reduces accidents. Some fear that traffic on side streets would increase with this option but experience indicates that this does not occur.
There is also concern that traffic will be slowed by frequent bus stops along a proposed east-west Speedvale bus route but this won’t happen if bus stops are embedded in the boulevard.
Most of the bike traffic using Speedvale travels east to west. These are people that live in the east and cycle to work in the west. Bike lanes crossing the Emma to Earl St pedestrian bridge several blocks south of Speedvale are not practical for these cyclists. For them, option 3 is a much better alternative.
We can even avoid the cost of the pedestrian bridge at Emma by connecting the option 3 bike lanes on Speedvale to the river bike trail at the bridge on Speedvale Ave E. A proposal to run this trail through an underpass incorporated into the Speedvale bridge when it is rebuilt would safely serve pedestrians, mobility chair users and cyclists who are travelling north to south or connecting to the east-west Speedvale bike lanes. Why are we paying for two bridges when an existing bridge that has to be rebuilt could be designed to safely service all modes of traffic?
Road On A Diet is a worthwhile design approach that should guide our reconstruction of Speedvale avenue East.