Fatal accident highlights traffic issues

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 12/03/2018 (1611 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

It is now March, and the memorial to Surafiel Musse Tesfamaria, who tragically died after being hit by a vehicle while crossing St. Anne’s Road on Feb. 12, is still visible, sagging in a puddle of melting snow.

The intersection of Varennes Avenue and St Anne’s is as family and child-friendly as an area as could be, with shopping, McDonald’s, a Dairy Queen, and École Varennes just a block away. It is hard to believe that just a few weeks ago, an eight-year-old boy was killed walking to school with his mother, crossing at an activated, operating crosswalk.

In February, 12 mothers from Varennes approached the board of the Louis Riel School Division to raise their concerns about safety in the area near the school and to demand solutions and changes moving forward.

Photo by Abigail Byle The crosswalk at Varennes Avenue and St. Anne’s Road, viewed from the southwest corner of the intersection.

Visibility and awareness are key to ensuring that pedestrians using crosswalks are safe, and the crosswalk at Varennes has seen three fatalities over the years. Overgrown tree branches block the view of the crosswalk lights and one of the hanging light boxes is currently burnt out.

There have been a couple of critical accidents in St. Vital over the past year on both St Mary’s Road and St Anne’s. The number of people commuting on these roads keeps increasing, which leads to traffic and safety issues. City councillor Brian Mayes has committed to improving the safety of the crosswalk in question and also hopes to address some of the larger infrastructure challenges facing the St. Vital ward.

Mayes’ proposal that a planned traffic study of St. Anne’s Road be expanded to include the crosswalk was passed on March 5. Some of the priorities to be addressed by the traffic study include evaluating the intersection or visibility or other safety concerns, assessing speed limits, and evaluating pedestrian safety, as well as infrastructure issues.  

The City of Winnipeg recently updated its Transportation Master Plan, which outlines the public works priorities for Winnipeg.

One of the recommendations identified in the 2017 plan is the widening of St. Mary’s Road north of its intersection with St. Anne’s. Coun. Mayes also hopes to assess the corridor from the intersection of Dakota Street and St. Mary’s Road south to Bishop Grandin Boulevard, an area which sees very high volume at rush hours and is also home to shopping, schools, and daycares. An analysis of this area might result in some actionable solutions.

Growth along both St. Anne’s and St. Mary’s shows no signs of stopping. Infrastructure needs to keep pace to maintain healthy and happy communities, including the area’s older neighbourhoods.

In order for residents to travel the area and enjoy themselves, it is clear that traffic issues and safety concerns must be resolved, so that the crosswalk at Varennes doesn’t ever have another memorial.

Abigail Byle is a community correspondent for St Vital. Follow her on Twitter, @abbyinitio or email her, byle104@gmail.com

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