Pedestrian lights added to dangerous road

Residence Services is taking the next step to ensure pedestrian safety around the University of Calgary’s family housing complex.

The university announced Tues., March 27 that Residence Services is fronting the cost of crosswalk safety measures that the City of Calgary warranted for the intersection at 32 Ave. and 37 St. NW.

Immediately following the January collision that claimed the life of six-year old Jenna Chang and badly injured her mother, U of C nursing student Ye Qiao Chang, the university sent a letter to the city requesting a review of the intersection, as well as the other roads surrounding the university.

Associate vice-president of campus infrastructure Steve Dantzer explained that the city has completed their review of the fatal intersection.

“Based on their assessments and scoring system, the city has determined that [the intersection] warrants flashers at the crosswalk,” he said.

Senior City of Calgary traffic signals engineer Pat Grisak explained that a number of factors were taken into account in the assessment, including vehicle volume, the number of pedestrians, the ages of pedestrians, the number of lanes, speed limits and the collision rate at the intersection. The intersection received a score of 81 and needed a minimum of 80 to qualify for the flashing lights.

Dantzer noted the university initially ran into a problem, as the city does not review the warranted locations until November of each year.

“The budget for 2007 projects has already been decided,” said Grisak. “A project may be warranted now, but the budget would not permit it until 2008.”

As the safety of pedestrians is a major concern following January’s fatal collision, Dantzer said Residence Services decided to pay for installation of the lights, at an estimated cost of between $50,000 and $75,000.

Director of Residence Services Joel Lynn noted the money is on loan to the city.

“We’ll have those dollars back to our budget by 2008,” he said. “This is a substantial priority for our students and family housing.”

Grisak noted that although Residence Services has agreed to advance the money, the city will still be involved in the physical construction of the lights.

“This is a partnership with the university, a partnership to do what’s best for the university and the safety of pedestrians,” said Grisak.

While Lynn is pleased with the city’s decision to ensure the safety of pedestrians crossing 32 Ave., he expressed concern for other roads, specifically 24 Ave., that are in close proximity to the residences.

Dantzer agreed with Lynn’s concerns.

“The university will be working with the city this spring to review the roads and see if pedestrian safety can be improved,” he said.

Grisak said a request for traffic counts along 24 Ave. has already been put forward to the city.

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