Re-opening the intersection of Portage Avenue and Main Street will cost millions of dollars — up to $15 million by some estimates, depending on the design and the work done.
If that figure is true and the cost is equally divided between the 15 city wards, St. James will end up paying $1 million for the re-opening of the intersection.
Closer to home, I wonder how various St. James traffic safety issues might relate to the safety issues in the Portage and Main debate. In the past decade, there are have been several serious accidents at Portage Avenue and Berry Street. In June, 2007, after a building was struck at that intersection, people signed a petition calling for a left-turn signal from Portage onto Berry.
In 2014, a pedestrian/vehicle collision at Portage Avenue and Mount Royal Road led to the installation of timers on the walk signals at that intersection, which already had a red-light camera.
In August, 2010, a pedestrian was killed crossing Portage Avenue just west of St. James Street. In 2011, the Core Fire Hall Access Report expressed concern that the new emergency traffic signal on Portage Avenue for fire trucks would encourage unsafe pedestrian crossings in front of the new fire hall, so the city rehabilitated a pedestrian underpass on the east side of Route 90 underneath Portage Avenue underpass.
In this instance, using an underpass clearly made more sense than a street-level crossing.
So, if it makes sense for all pedestrians to cross Portage underground between Queen and St. James streets, why should the underground crossing of Portage and Main between McDermot and Graham be discouraged?
Portage Avenue has anywhere from six to eight lanes of traffic along its route from the Perimeter to downtown, and pedestrian crossing is banned at several of its intersections. Most of these intersections feature significant traffic flow, so why remove the ban for the most complicated Portage Avenue intersection at Main Street?
Manitoba Public Insurance statistics listed 12 intersections as the most dangerous for pedestrians between 2009 and 2014. The intersections of Portage Avenue and Maryland, Ferry and Cavalier were all on the list. Will the proposed re-opening of Portage and Main add that intersection to the list?
Fred Morris is a community correspondent for St. James. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
St. James community correspondent
Fred Morris is a community correspondent for St. James.