It’s been in the works since last spring, but the final version of the Transportation Master Plan was presented to Moose Jaw City Council on Monday night. 

The master plan looked at all modes of transportation including pedestrians, cyclists, passenger cars and commercial trucks. Its focus was on safety, operations and system capacity now and into the future. 

The plan came back with 71 recommendations categorized as immediate, short, medium and long-term, and ongoing priorities. 

“What this does is it provides the flexibility to adjust the program as funding becomes available, as government programs help and get announced and as council priorities change. It’s a long list, but we are excited at the potential of well-thought-out plans and the potential it brings to Moose Jaw and its residents,” said KGS transportation services head Bruce Belmore. 

Of interest was an online survey in which 502 residents responded. The survey showed 73 per cent say they drive alone for their daily commute, while 11 per cent use transit or cycle. 

The survey asked residents, if improvements were made to the transportation network, how would they like to travel for their daily commute? Forty-eight per cent said cycle or use transit and 39 per cent said they would still drive alone. 

“What was phenomenal was I have never in my career seen numbers that high, that much interest in transit or cycling,” Belmore said. 

Residents were also asked to mark areas of concern within the transportation network. 

“We asked people to identify concerns that they have on the network. We received over 1,500 points on the network with over 1,200 further comments further describing those concerns. Some of the hotspot locations were Thunderbird bridge, Ninth Avenue Southwest, transit and downtown,” said KGS transportation engineer Destiny Piper. 

The plan did an assessment of 37 traffic signals in the city with 26 operating well, 10 experiencing some delays during peak hours and one was operating poorly at Thatcher Drive and Woodlily Drive. 

Coun. Doug Blanc asked about syncing green lights on Main Street. Belmore said the study shows there aren’t any issues with delays, but it is an option if the city decides to do so. 

“If you want people to hit every green light at 40 km/h or 50 km/h, you actually set what is called a green wave through all those signals. So, you can do it for whatever speed you want them to travel,” Belmore said. 

There were areas in the plan that were identified as needing additional traffic controls. 

In the Main Street Corridor, the plan recommended gateway treatments at Manitoba Street and Oxford Street, and bulb outs at Caribou Street, Manitoba Street and the remaining corners on Fairford Street. There was also a recommendation for pedestrian advance signals. 

Moving over to Thatcher Drive and Ninth Avenue Northeast, the plan recommends a roundabout. 

“It works differently than traffic signals, and in fact it works better for the surrounding businesses, particularly to the south where you may have queues from a traffic signal backing up across the accesses. This keeps traffic moving,” Belmore said. 

Mayor Clive Tolley said he was very much in favour of the use of roundabouts at intersections 

“Anyone who’s driven in the UK knows that they have very few lights and it works really, really well. We had one established at Fourth Avenue and Saskatchewan Street and we removed it, much to my chagrin, I think we should be adding them,” Tolley said. 

There was also a recommendation to install lights south of the exhibition grounds to allow better access to the Hillcrest Golf Club and Golden Ticket Sports Centre. 

Other recommendations included: 

  • Changes to the four-lane to two-lane transition on Thatcher Drive West near Fourth Avenue. 
  • Bulb outs on First Avenue Northwest at the High Street intersection. 
  • Two-way left turning lanes on Ninth Avenue Northwest, similar to the turning lanes on First Avenue Northwest. 

The online survey identified over 125 missing sidewalks and 60 locations where sidewalk repairs or maintenance is needed. 

KGS did an inventory of the conditions of the roads and used a 2019 sidewalk inventory to look at the condition of sidewalks. It showed that many of the roads in the city are in fair, or at their tipping point, to poor condition and many of the sidewalks had severe tripping hazards. 

“It’s kind of an eye opener and a slap in the face when you realize our road conditions, most of them are orange lines, which means that they’re in very poor to fair condition and our sidewalk inventory is filled with red dots, meaning they are severe sidewalk conditions,” Tolley said. 

Belmore said it is a steep curve from when roads are good to needing a full reconstruction. However, he pointed out that preventative maintenance and minor resurfacing can extend the life of the roads. 

He recommended combining road rehabilitation with sidewalks and focusing on higher use areas first. 

There was plenty of talk around city transit. From public consultation, KGS heard the desire for the following: 

  • For transit service to begin earlier in the day and end later in the day to accommodate work trips 
  • Weekend service for those working weekends and/or getting groceries. 
  • More frequent service than the current 40-minute service. 
  • Improve reliability and bus route location information and scheduling. 
  • Improve bus stop infrastructure such as benches and shelters. 

Some of the recommendations in the plan include establishing a transit-live app so users can see in real-time when their bus will arrive, expand weekday hours and frequency, provide Saturday regular routes and pilot on-demand Sundays and extend paratransit 

Belmore highly recommended that the city look at doing a full master plan for transit. 

“Extending the hours requires more staff time, shorter looping route system for going from 40 to 30 minutes takes more buses, everything. There’s a cost behind it,” Belgrave said. 

Coun. Kim Robinson added that the biggest trouble the city has is ridership numbers. 

“We’ve had frequent bus routes. We’ve had extended times. We’ve done all that and it always boils down to no ridership,” Robinson said. 

Belmore said transit isn’t going to be a money-making venture, but a master plan would help get the best bang for your buck. 

Also addressed in the plan was the “Safe Routes To School” section that is already being implemented. This includes reducing the speed limits in school zones to 30 km/h to meet standards, proper signage for the beginning and end of school zones, proper crosswalk signage and ladder crosswalk markings on the pavement. 

When asked about the next steps, Director of Operation Bevan Harlton said the city is working to connect sidewalks, road and infrastructure work together as outlined in the master plan, which could shift work in some locations. 

Harlton said he foresees adjustments to the paved roads and transportation budgets in order to allow for improvements, adding small intersection improvements have already been made. He said the main focus is the “Safe Routes to School” for 2024 with safe routes to playgrounds in 2025. 

For transit, Harlton said administration has the same appetite as residents to make improvement and options will be coming at budget time. 

You can read the full Transportation Master Plan here