Williams Parkway Widening Issue25 Jun 2020, Posted by Brampton Cycling, Cycling Benefits - Environment, Cycling Benefits - Health, Cycling Safety, Sustainable Transportation in
BikeBrampton encourages residents support Option 3 for Williams Parkway to remain 4 lanes with multi-use path, treed landscaped showing sustainability leadership for Climate Emergency, 2040 Vision and Active Transportation Master Plan.
City of Brampton Staff is proposing to widen Williams Parkway between McLaughlin Road and North Park Drive from 4 to 6 lanes, as planned since 2004. The latest collective knowledge about vibrant city planning, Brampton’s Active Transportation Master Plan (2019), Brampton’s 2040 Vision (2018), and Brampton’s declared Climate Emergency (2019) have cast a much different light on what was logical in 2004, Brampton’s Transit and Transportation Master Plan (2009) and the Environmental Assessment (2011).
Council passed a unanimous motion to pause Williams Parkway road widening
Council passed a Motion on October 23, 2019 to request Staff review options and opportunities for managing traffic congestion due to growth and for maximizing people-moving capacity management opportunities, improvements to active transportation (walking, cycling) and transit infrastructure and services, and operational interventions and improvements, in particular at intersections.
Council Workshop on Williams Parkway Options
Staff returned with a Council Workshop on June 15, 2020, recognizing that “Brampton is at a pivotal point in development”, “we cannot keep doing things the same way” and there are “contrasting views on increasing people moving capacity vs. congestion”. Because “Williams Parkway is the first of several previously identified 6 lane widening projects currently pending”, it is critical that we make the right decision for the growth that Brampton will experience and for our limited time to plan for climate change. Council Workshop Presentation
Staff recommended Option #1 (not unanimous)
Option #1 would proceed with widening 4 lanes to 6 lanes of traffic, providing HOV and transit in the curb lanes. The sidewalk would be removed, and a 3 m. multi-use path for shared cycling and pedestrians would be added to both sides of the road, extending to the sound barrier. Virtually all the green landscaping and trees would be removed, leaving an asphalt corridor. This road is not designated for bus rapid transit. We are not in favour of this option for the following reasons:
Issues with Option #1
1. Induced Demand Effect on Congestion
Induced Demand is a concept well understood by planners since 2011, yet often ignored in traffic demand modelling. It means that building more traffic lanes won’t alleviate congestion. A bigger road offers more supply and this makes driving more attractive, which encourages people to get behind the wheel. Traffic does not get better. When Houston expanded their freeway to 26 lanes at a cost of $2.8 billion, over the next 3 years traffic actually became worse and travel times increased by 30% in the morning commute and 55% in the afternoon. The cost of widening roads is neither an effective use of tax dollars, nor is it good for the environment. Video demonstrating Induced Demand.
2. Trees & Green Spaces – Brampton’s 2040 Vision
Option #1 give the appearance of an asphalt and concrete thoroughfare. Brampton’s 2040 Vision #1 stated that “Brampton will be a mosaic of sustainable places, sitting in an interconnected green park network, with its people as environmental stewards – targeting ‘one-planet’ living.”
3. Safe, Comfortable Active Transportation Infrastructure
Brampton’s 2040 Vision #4 stated that “Brampton will be a mosaic of safe, integrated transportation choices and new modes, contributing to civic sustainability, and emphasizing walking, cycling, and transit”. Brampton’s ATMP also emphasizes Complete Streets and the need for an integrated AT network, sustainable community design and global best practices. Option #1 will not give either cyclists or pedestrians the feeling of comfort between a faster moving HOV lane and the tall sound barrier. Crossing six lanes of traffic is less compatible with Vision Zero.
4. Explore other options for replacing or using Development Charges
The Workshop and the survey assert that DC funding makes Option #1 the most economical for the Brampton taxpayer. This may not be the only solution to selecting the best option.
5. COVID-19 potential changes to Traffic Demand
The traffic demand modelling does not account for potential changes due to COVID-19. There might be permanent drops in traffic as more people continue to work from home. Certain businesses may not reopen.
Option #2 keeps Williams Parkway existing 4 lanes
Option #2 changes the sidewalk to a multi-use path for pedestrians and bikes. There is more of a green landscaping buffer between the vehicles and the path. This option is preferable to Option #1 in our opinion.
Option #3 narrows Williams Parkway existing 4 lanes – best choice
It creates more space for the multi-use path and additional trees, shrubs, and a park-like setting. It offers the best solution for encouraging AT with safety, comfort and protection for vulnerable cyclists and pedestrians. Narrowed lanes calms the traffic speeds. This option is most aligned with Brampton’s 2040 Vision, the Active Transportation Master Plan, and Brampton’s declaration of a Climate Emergency.
This is Brampton’s Chance to demonstrate Sustainability Leadership
The Williams Parkway project is our opportunity to make sure that Brampton’s urban planning is in line with our more recent publicly supported plans. It is a watershed decision that will impact the other proposed road expansions to 6 lanes and indicates that Brampton is a sustainability leader.
We therefore request support for Williams Parkway Option #3.
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