Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

'Painful' limits reviewed

Manitoba Traffic Board slates public hearings on speed zones

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There's a stretch of Pembina Highway just outside St. Norbert where there's nothing but open highway in front of you... and a 60-kilometre-per-hour speed limit.

"It's painful" trying to keep to 60 km/h, said Todd Dube of WiseUp Winnipeg, who argues the limit should be 80 km/h.

"There are horses on one side, a wide-open field on the other, and it's a divided highway."

Dube and other Winnipeggers can have their say next week when the Manitoba Traffic Board opens public hearings on several four-lane divided streets where some people think the speed limits are too low and inconsistent with other speed limits.

The Manitoba Traffic Board sets speed limits throughout Manitoba, including Winnipeg. The first public hearing is slated for Nov. 27 at 204-301 Weston St. starting at 10 a.m.

Two of the disputed sections are on Pembina Highway in St. Norbert. Officials are studying whether to increase the speed limit from 60 km/h to 80 km/h on the aforementioned stretch from Rue des Trappistes to south of Turnbull Drive.

It is also studying raising the speed from 50 to 60 km/h on Pembina Highway from north of Ducharme Avenue to south of the bridge crossing La Salle River.

"It's long overdue" on both scores, said Dube. "We get calls from people from out of town and from the U.S. (driving into the city on Highway 75) who just can't believe the City of Winnipeg would allow this."

Another generator of speeding tickets to be reviewed is a stretch along Dugald Road east and west of Plessis Road. The four-lane divided highway's speed limit is 70 km/h, then drops suddenly to 50 km/h for just 400 metres, then shoots back to 70 km/h. Police are often seen hiding in a forested yard with a radar gun at the start of the 50 km/h stretch.

"That is so egregious. We got a call from an RCMP officer who was so outraged at getting a ticket there that she said she was going to fight it," Dube said.

WiseUp considers the stretch along Grant Avenue between Kenaston Boulevard and Stafford Street as the worst area in terms of the high volume of photo-radar tickets it generates. A dispute over the accuracy of a photo-radar mobile unit on Grant near Nathaniel Street launched the anti-photo-radar group.

Also being debated next week is increasing the speed limit on Waverley Street between Taylor and Grant avenues to 60 km/h. A proposal is also being made to increase the limit to 100 km/h from 90 km/h between a point 300 metres south of Turnbull Drive and the southern city limit.

CAA Manitoba also thinks Winnipeg has some questionable speed limits on some four-lane divided roads.

"We think (the review) is a really good thing," said Liz Peters, communications manager for CAA Manitoba. "There are some areas where it's been a long time coming, St. Norbert in particular. But even places like on Kenaston, there isn't much reason why the speed limit couldn't be raised a bit." That would improve traffic flow, she said.

At the same time, CAA wonders how higher speed limits will mesh with current attempts to reduce speeds in school zones to 30 km/h. CAA is for some higher speed limits "as long as it's not in conflict with things like schools," Peters said.

The review is "not just about motorists. It's pedestrians and cyclists and thinking of kids in school zones, too."

The Manitoba Traffic Board will hold a second public hearing on Dec. 4 at the same time and place to discuss proposals to increase the speed limit from 50 to 60 km/h on the following streets:

-- Corydon Avenue between Kelvin Boulevard and Cambridge Street.

-- Roblin Boulevard between Haney and Wexford streets.

-- University Crescent between Chancellor Matheson Road and Pembina Highway.

Speed limits on Kenaston Boulevard, Taylor Avenue and Provencher Boulevard are already under review.

bill.redekop@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 20, 2012 B1

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