Strong Themes Emerge for Improving Courtenay’s Transportation Network
June 19, 2018
Including Consideration of New River Crossing, Major Road Upgrades and Cycling Network Improvements
Based on community input and extensive technical analysis completed over the past three months, strong themes are emerging regarding the recommended focus for each transportation mode.
There is high consistency between the technical analysis and the perceptions and beliefs of Courtenay residents in terms of how the network can be improved.
After nearly 1,000 residents provided input on the transportation network, transportation engineers have reviewed existing and future mobility and safety, and assessed a variety of transportation improvements to determine how best to improve safety across all modes, reduce congestion and better connect people to key destinations. City staff and consultants have also met with multiple stakeholder groups and regional partners to share information at each stage.
Key findings indicate that downtown bridges and some major routes are over-capacity at peak times and congestion will increase in future years without additional capacity. Assessing potential network additions and improvements has resulted in a number of draft recommendations being presented for a second round of public feedback.
Draft recommendations specific to each mode of transportation are included in the backgrounder below.
An open house will occur Tuesday, June 19, 2018, from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. at the Florence Filberg Centre for residents to learn more and provide feedback on strategies being considered. An online survey will also be available at www.courtenay.ca/connectingcourtenay from June 20 - July 3. All feedback will inform final recommendations to City Council.
When complete, the “Connecting Courtenay” Transportation Master Plan will include long-term plans for all modes of transportation over the next 20 years, as well as five and 10-year investment strategies. It will also better position Courtenay to apply for senior government grants and partnerships with other transportation agencies and governments.
Courtenay has more than doubled in size over the past 25 years, and as cities grow and change, so do their transportation needs. A transportation network includes all the ways that people, goods, and services move. Growing communities with greater diversity demand more transportation choice and people of all ages and abilities need to be able to reach important destinations, by whichever mode they choose. How people travel around their community, where they travel and how long it takes, all contribute to how communities plan transportation infrastructure like roads, bike lanes, and sidewalks.
A final report will be presented to City Council in late summer or early fall. Additional information can be found at: www.courtenay.ca/connectingcourtenay
Overview of Public Input and Draft Recommendations by Mode
- Growth pressures on the crossings, downtown and northeast areas, as well specifically Ryan Road and Highway 19A Bypass were areas of concern for residents.
- Specifically, the limited river crossings, congested traffic flow and adjacent intersections were mentioned.
- Collision rates correspond consistently with areas of concern noted by residents.
- A number of strategies can be considered for road improvements, including new roads, new crossings and widening of lanes. Intersection “laning” and traffic controls can also be considered.
- Major road improvements were highlighted the most for improving the driving experience.
- Consultants reviewed traffic patterns, geometry of roads and intersections, and associated considerations such as environmental impacts and drainage.
- Proposed recommended directions within 20 years:
- Extend 17th Street from Highway 19A to Back Road
- Add a new bridge crossing at 21st Street. A crossing south of 17th Street has the greatest potential to divert traffic from congested areas and accommodate increased growth in years to come.
- Widen Highway 19A Bypass
- Widen Ryan Road
- Beyond the 20-year plan - consider additional regional connections and improvements, including new connections to Anderton Road and McDonald Road
- The number one factor preventing residents from cycling more is feeling unsafe in traffic.
- More trails and pathways and bike lanes physically separated from traffic were the highest rated ways of making it easier to bike in Courtenay.
- A technical review of the cycling network identified limited network of designated routes and no comfortable river crossing for cyclists.
- Many popular off-street pathways currently act as “spine” bike network
- Courtenay currently lacks any designated on-street facilities that would be considered comfortable for people of “all ages and abilities”. The 5th Street Complete Street Pilot will be the first “all ages and abilities” facility.
- Many neighbourhood routes that are comfortable for cycling are unsigned.
- A number of strategies to support increased cycling could be considered, including facility design guidelines, a connected network of bike routes, increased bike parking and improved education and information related to cycling.
- Draft recommended directions within 20 years:
- Creating a “spine” cycling network that connects key destinations and focuses on safety and comfort.
- Supplement the spine routes with a network of neighbourhood bikeways on local streets and existing and planned trails to broader areas of the city. Timed with the parallel development of the Parks and Recreation Master Plan, synergies between commuter and recreational routes will be considered
- Ensure all new roadways provide for all modes, including cycling and walking.
- When asked what could be done to make walking easier in Courtenay, building more trails and pathways was most preferred improvement that could be made.
- Issues identified in the walking network were lack of connectivity in particular in commercial areas, on key corridors (Ryan Road, Lerwick Road) and around schools.
- Low lighting, uncontrolled crossings and lack of separation from vehicle traffic are felt to impact safety and comfort walking.
- Sidewalk maintenance, push button locations and “let-downs” to the street were seen as current barriers to accessibility.
- Draft recommended directions within 20 years:
- An expanded network of sidewalks, improved sidewalk treatments, improved lighting and directional signage, are recommended to address connectivity and safety.
- The Comox Valley Regional District partners with BC Transit and Watson and Ash to plan and deliver transit service in the Comox Valley. The City of Courtenay does not provide transit services.
- When asked about transit, the lack of transit frequency was noted as the greatest concern
- In the Fall of 2018, a number of changes are being introduced by to make transit more frequent.
- To view the 25-Year Transit Future Plan visit https://bctransit.com/comox-valley/transit-future/comox-valley-transit-future-plan