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This article was published 3/1/2019 (990 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Motorists may have to ease up on the gas pedal on a short stretch of Wilkes Avenue, if area residents and its new councillor get their way.
Coun. Kevin Klein (Charleswood-Tuxedo) said Thursday he will be taking a motion to next week's Assiniboia Community Committee, asking city administration to carry out a traffic study on Wilkes Avenue from Shaftesbury Boulevard to the Perimeter Highway.
The rookie councilor said he's hoping the City of Winnipeg will lower the speed limit a stretch of Wilkes Avenue from Loudoun Road to Liberty Street to 50 km/h (from 80 km/h). Klein said during last fall's civic election, he spoke with many people in the ward who felt the speed on Wilkes should be reduced.
"It was one of the issues I heard from everybody as a traffic concern and truly a safety concern," he said.
"When everybody in Charleswood and Tuxedo tells me they are afraid to drive on Wilkes, or I get email with the subject line saying nearly somebody killed, something has to be done... There have been a number of near-misses, but thankfully nobody has lost their life, as far as I know."
Area resident Carl Roberts was one of those complaining to Klein about the speed limit on that stretch of Wilkes Avenue during the municipal election. He's since joined the Charleswood Advisory Group set up by Klein, following his election to council.
"There needs to be something done to slow people down in that area, because there's accidents happening every week at Elmhurst (Road) and Wilkes. There's an awful lot of accidents week-in, week-out. Given the speed involved, it's just a matter of time before there's a fatality," Roberts said.
He said he believes the problems stem from complications to the construction plans for the Sterling Lyon Parkway route, and the city needs to find a way to address them long-term. In the meantime, Roberts said lowering the speed limit will improve the situation.
While Wilkes Avenue from Shaftesbury Boulevard to the Perimeter Highway is a provincial road (No. 145), Klein said he believes the city should do its due diligence by commissioning a study.
Wilkes Avenue isn't immune to fatal crashes. In October 2005, Brian Fraser, 45, died after his vehicle collided with a gravel truck between Charleswood Road and the Perimeter Highway. Sandi, his wife of more than 24 years, survived the crash.
A medical supervisor with the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service said at the time it took emergency workers 20 minutes to get the first victim out of the van using the Jaws of Life.
"It was a significant impact and the impact was on the driver's door," Paul Roberts said. "It's 90 kilometres per hour in that area, so that's a significant speed."
While his main worry on Wilkes Avenue is the strip between Loudoun Road and Liberty Street, Klein said there are other issues he hopes the proposed study will also look at. Increased traffic has been sparked by the recent development of the IKEA store and outlet mall at Kenaston Boulevard and Sterling Lyon Parkway (which becomes Wilkes at Shaftesbury).
"There are no turning lanes off Wilkes, so when there is a train, traffic can back up and people are trying to get past," he said, noting the ultimate solution may be twinning Wilkes all the way to the Perimeter.
"We have to do this step by step. Lets do the speed limit first, then the next step should be involving the province."
Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.