Roundabouts eyed for a major PoCo road

Roundabouts, plant-filled medians and dedicated street parking are some of the ideas being floated by Port Coquitlam city hall to dress up Prairie Avenue and slow traffic along the busy arterial road.

Roundabouts, plant-filled medians and dedicated street parking are some of the ideas being floated by Port Coquitlam city hall to dress up Prairie Avenue and slow traffic along the busy arterial road.

Tuesday, the city’s committee of council approved three high-level concepts to update Prairie, which staff say has taken the brunt of extra vehicles from growth on Port Coquitlam's northside as well as from development on Burke Mountain in Coquitlam.

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This fall, area residents will get a chance to pick what features they want to see on Prairie and affected property owners will be invited so they are aware of the plans.

And once the detailed designs are confirmed by council, it’s expected construction will start next summer, Jason Daviduk, PoCo’s manager of capital projects, told committee members.

Three proposals are on the table for Prairie between Shaughnessy and Fremont streets, all of which continue to include one travel lane in each direction and parking on both sides:

Option 1: the “least invasive” plan, keeping the existing sidewalks and the north curb and gutter, at an estimated cost of $3.5 million;

• Option 2: a new sidewalk on the north side of the road and a multi-use path on the south side, at a cost of $5.1 million;

• and Option 3: a raised vegetated median plus a new sidewalk on the north side of the road and multi-use path on the south side, at a cost of $6.7 million.

While options 2 and 3 may be eligible for TransLink funding to cover up to half the costs for the multi-use path, the totals don’t include possible under-grounding of BC Hydro power lines nor do they include: sanitary and storm sewer replacements (between Cedar and Fremont); water main replacements (from Shaughnessy to Flint); and additional private land acquisition for a potential Shaughnessy/Prairie roundabout.

Six Prairie intersections are under review for roundabouts, a traffic calming measure that avoids the use of traffic signals: Shaughnessy ($316,000); Oxford ($68,500); Wellington ($66,500); Newberry ($21,000); Cedar ($72,000); and Fremont ($52,000).

Daviduk told The Tri-City News today (Wednesday) the road features will be decided where appropriate and “solutions along the corridor may vary by location,” he said.

PoCo's chief administrative officer, Kristen Dixon, said whatever elements are picked for the final road design, there needs to be consistency along the corridor in terms of form and character.

Mayor Brad West, who supports use of roundabouts, said the road work is long overdue and the improvements are “a real priority for council and the community.”

Coun. Laura Dupont added the Prairie makeover will be a “total game changer” and she’ll be pressing for Option 3 to see more planting.

Coun. Nancy McCurrach said, while campaigning last fall, she heard from area residents about motorists speeding along Prairie. As for roundabouts, they “will make a difference and I’m looking forward to hearing what the public has to say” at the open house, she said.

Still, the upcoming road work may require the city to trim — or even remove — some plants, trees and fences along the city-owned road allowances, said Forrest Smith, director of engineering and public works. City staff have identified 20 locations where changes will likely be made.

Meanwhile, Coun. Dean Washington questioned why the stretch of Prairie from Fremont to Burns isn’t already in the city work plans.

That section is “hell” for pedestrians and cyclists travelling to and from the dike, Coun. Darrell Penner added (sidewalks east of Fremont will cost around $600,000, according to a staff report).

As part of the improvement project, the city intends to widen Prairie from Fremont to Burns but the subsequent environmental work may be significant, Dixon said. 

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