Innovation Fund Application

In an area such as Ward 12, which is fast proving itself to be the Jewel of Calgary; expansion, growth and development have played a role in creating traffic issues.

Traffic safety problems are one of the top complaints we have from constituents and which consume a great deal of time and energy responding to them.

By not addressing traffic safety effectively at the time of development we affect many downstream communities as traffic finds its own route to its destination.

Through an Innovation Fund application I am striving to find a balance between the impact that traffic has on the various communities and their surrounding areas and how they are communicated.

Below is a copy of the Innovation Fund Application that I am presenting.


Date: September 8, 2011

Name of Project: Traffic Impact Reports – Safety Component
Sponsor: Shane Keating – Ward 12
Phone Number: 403-268-2478

Affected Business Unit(s) and/or Departments: Transportation – Traffic Operations

Amount of Funds Requested: $25,000 for the project and $5,000 for a community mail out if needed.

Summary Description of Projec:

Ongoing traffic safety issues that arise from specific development projects create an ongoing liability for the city costing millions of dollars in remedial infrastructure and post construction traffic intervention. They also create serious ongoing risk which leads to injury and sometimes death causing adversarial conflicts with our communities and constituents costing further resources and manpower.

Predictable and foreseeable traffic safety concerns are rarely part of the traffic impact studies (TIS) attached to project development proposals. Nor do these TIS consider the accumulated effect of several projects happening in the same area about the same time which can be significant.

As a result the city incurs most or all the costs of post construction traffic responses since these safety challenges are not issues until months or years after the projects get built. These costs include post event safety studies and safety responses such as traffic calming, new lights, pedestrian corridors, etc.

This study proposes to evaluate several past projects in the ward that are currently creating significant traffic issues, review the city’s response to determine how these problems might have been assessed and what remedial infrastructure should have been included in the DP as part of the development costs. The study will include detailed community engagement in the affected areas. It will also show how these challenges impact other communities downstream from the project. 

If successful this pilot project will provide the City with a template for future TIS that will ensure safer communities and significant city savings from additional traffic safety work.

Proposed Timeline (including proposed date of final report): The project can start immediately after approval and will take approximately 90 days to complete. It is proposed that the final report be done by February 2012 so that insights obtained can be researched and implemented before the construction season starts in 2012.

How does this project meet the criteria of the fund as set out in the Terms of Reference for the Council Innovation Fund? 

Dozens of traffic impact studies are requested every year, in every ward and yet new communities continue to have escalating traffic issues which consume enormous amounts of city resources. These challenges trickle down to existing communities which must now deal with increased traffic flow and shortcutting that were never investigated as part of the original TIS. This study looks at a new approach to assessing the long term traffic impact of a project and has the potential of saving millions of dollars of remedial infrastructure costs by placing those costs with the development where they belong. It has implications across the city.

What does success look like and how will it be measured?

New development works when it properly integrates into the existing transportation system and adds needed new infrastructure that is consistent with the needs of the community. While increased traffic flow is often a given byproduct of growth it does not have to decrease traffic safety if properly managed. To be successful this project will clearly outline cases where the city has spent money doing remedial traffic safety work which could have been included in the original DP by the developer. The report will include specific community engagement by individuals directly affected by the traffic problems – likely from door to door canvassing rather than public meetings which are often dominated by interest groups. The final report will show where money could have been saved and the risk to the community reduced.

Attachments 

1. Suggested Candidate Selection Criteria

It is unlikely that City transportation staff could complete this study within the desired time line. Plus it will give the project more transparency to be done by an outside consultant. However most traffic engineering consultants have a vested interest in the current system as that is what their clients are asking for. This project should be done by a traffic safety expert not currently producing traffic impact studies for developers.

The successful candidate should meet the following requirements.

  • Considerable practical experience with traffic safety issues, ideally from actually attending crash locations.
  • Experience and expertise in community engagement, particularly one on one. This will require expertise in using established sampling techniques to ensure the data collected from sampling is representative of the overall population for predictive validity.
  • Expertise in the traffic response methods that the city can employ from traffic calming, added infrastructure and especially traffic enforcement tactics.
  • Expertise in data collection techniques related to traffic studies – especially safety issues which go beyond just counting cars and turning movements.