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Last updated: 04/12/2017
IMAGE - 	Carrefour giratoire
Roundabout

Traffic lights or traffic circle? What are the facts?

Updated - April 19, 2017

The main objective of adding a traffic light or traffic circle at the intersection of Bédard Avenue and Chemin Saint-Louis comes down to improving the level of service for motorists. The Town is under no obligation to install either traffic lights or a traffic circle.

In 2005, elected officials in office at the time had requested the initial traffic studies that were carried out. Although the council had favoured the traffic light option in 2005 and again in 2013, the firm mandated to analyze all of the different options in 2013 came to an entirely different conclusion after assessing all of the information relevant to the project: a traffic circle would be better suited to the anticipated maximum population growth and represents the best investment of public funds, given that it would not require eventual reconfiguration or reconstruction. The main reason for the difference in cost between the traffic light and traffic circle (with widening of lanes) can be attributed to the elevated cost of work that would need to be done on Hydro-Québec’s conduit system based on estimates provided to the Town by Hydro-Québec. The following is an overview of the different solutions that have been analyzed and compared:

Overview of the different solutions

Traffic lights with no modification

Traffic lights with widening of lanes

Traffic circle

Évaluation - firme GENIVAR 2013 GENIVAR's evaluation from 2013 (translation)

Évaluation - firme GENIVAR 2013Évaluation - firme GENIVAR 2013 (original French version)

Projected Plan

Carrefour giratoire

1-Traffic light with no modification

 

 

Traffic light with no modification

 

 

Town’s position

Opponents’ position

 

 

Cost of traffic lights

With no modifications made to the current configuration of the intersection (single, non-widened lanes) 

 

Scenario favoured by elected officials in 2005

 

Same configuration as status quo (stop signs) – does not provide room for turning left at the green light = line-up

 

 Status quo – one at a time on four corners

 

2016 study: 50 to 60 vehicles turn left at the intersection during late afternoon rush hour

(4:15 to 5:15 p.m.)

Approximately 1 turn per minute

 

Cost estimates provided to the Town by Genivar using official data provided by the Town and based on all relevant information/data

Cost estimate provided by a citizen who has obtained 2 estimates from 2 companies specialized in installing traffic lights without the relevant information/data

Analysis and cost estimate for all scenarios –

Genivar research firm

Cost estimate 1

(undisclosed supplier)

Cost estimate 2

(undisclosed supplier)

$248,000

This option includes traffic changes, road markings and a decorative structure to provide a more attractive entrance to the Town  

(this cost does not include professional fees, unanticipated construction costs, financing costs and net tax, indexed for 2016)

$60,000

 

Cost does not indicate if taxes, professional fees, financing fees and contingencies are included.

 

$150,000 to $250,000

 

Cost does not indicate if taxes, professional fees, financing fees and contingencies are included.

 

Without widening of lanes:

  1. At the green light, motorists are incapable of turning left, which ultimately creates a line-up even though the light is green. Approximately 50 to 60 vehicles per hour turn left during late afternoon rush hour (4:15 to 5:15) (approximately 1 turn per minute).
  2. No bicycle or pedestrian paths allowing schoolchildren and cyclists (too tight) to pass safely; 
  3. Less safe: motorists tend to speed up when the light turns yellow, thereby increasing the risk of collision; collisions generally occur when vehicles are speeding;
  4. Turning remains difficult for the agricultural vehicles used by farmers in the Saint-Louis sector and for heavy machinery used by Sablière Chevrier (an acquired right for over 50 years);
  5. The studies revealed that the lifespan for this option was not worth the expense since the intersection would need to be reconfigured in a relatively short period of time in order to adjust to the growing population. As such, additional costly work would be required and public funds would have been poorly invested. 

Conclusion

  • Does not improve wait time given the lack of space for left turns 
  • Short-term solution – simply postpones the problem until a later time
  • Injection of additional funds $$$ inevitable
  • Safe, unless a motorist fails to make the required stop; 
  • No room for adding a safe area for our pedestrians, schoolchildren and cyclists (too tight) to pass; 
  • Turning remains difficult for the agricultural vehicles used by farmers in the Saint-Louis sector and for heavy machinery used by Sablière Chevrier (an acquired right for over 50 years).

2-Traffic lights with widening of lanes

 

 

Traffic lights with widening of lanes

 

 

Town’s position

Opponents’ position

 

Cost of traffic lights

with widening of lanes  (Bédard Avenue and Chemin Saint-Louis)

 

Scenario favoured by elected officials in 2013 before obtaining the results of the study carried out by Genivar and the estimates provided by Hydro-Québec

 

 

 

Why widen the lanes?

 

  • Enables motorists to turn left without creating a line-up at the green light; 
  • Makes turning easier for heavy machinery (farms in the Saint-Louis sector and Sablière Chevrier).

However, with this particular option:

  • motorists tend to speed up when the light turns yellow, thereby increasing the risk of collision; collisions generally occur when vehicles are speeding;
  • After analysis, and based on the estimates provided by Hydro-Québec, this option is MUCH more costly than anticipated.

No cost assessment made by the project’s opponents.

 

Indexed estimate provided to the Town by Genivar for the overall cost of the project

 

$2,255,000

 

Cost estimate provided by Hydro-Québec

The experts consulted by the project’s opponents state that:

 

  • This includes more than just cables. It is essentially a pedestal of cables in non-reinforced and non-structural concrete constructed within the shoulder and which cannot carry a load (weight);
  • Hydro-Québec, which is the ONLY possible contractor for carrying out work concerning its own network, does not allow construction of lanes on its pedestal (the Town has no leeway in this regard);
  • The estimates already provided by Hydro-Québecin order to carry out the work required for this option would be:
    • For traffic lights = $365,000  (2013 non-indexed cost before tax). The pedestal must be protected over a longer distance. HQ must also move power poles ($70,000).
    • For a traffic circle = $100,000 (2013 non-indexed cost). A shorter portion of the pedestal must be protected. HQ must also move power poles ($30,000).

 

  • § Moving Hydro-Québec cables is not necessary.
  • § The latter need only be covered by a steel plate.

 

No estimate obtained by 

 Hydro-Québec

Cost estimate for acquisition of land strips required for widening lanes

 

No cost assessment obtained by the project’s opponents.

 

Implementing traffic lights requires the acquisition of strips of land that are longer than those needed for a traffic circle. For the traffic circle, the Town has set aside an amount of approximately $330,000 in its three-year capital expenditure plan.

Also worth noting is the work to be done along the banks of the streams (overseen by the Ministère du développement durable, de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques) that cross the intersection.

 

Conclusion

  • Acceptable, but much too costly, solution as a result of the work required to protect Hydro-Québec’s pedestal, which must be modified in order to be able to support the weight of passing vehicles;
  • Less safe: motorists tend to speed up when the light turns yellow, thereby increasing the risk of collision; collisions generally occur when vehicles are speeding;
  • Makes turning easier for agricultural equipment and heavy machinery.

3-Traffic Circle

 

 

Traffic circle

 

 

Town’s position

Opponents’ position

 

 

Cost of the traffic circle

 

 

 

 

 

Cost estimates provided to the Town by Genivar using official data provided by the Town and based on all relevant information/data

No cost assessment made by the project’s opponents.

 

Analysis and cost estimate for all scenarios –

Genivar research firm

$1,680,000 

Cost estimate provided by Hydro-Québec

  • Estimates already provided by Hydro-Québec to personally carry out the work required to reinforce the pedestal ($100,000 plus $30,000 for moving power poles). 2013 cost, non-indexed for 2016. 

 

Cost estimate for acquiring strips of land required for widening lanes 

 

 

A traffic circle requires the acquisition of strips of land that are shorter than those required for traffic lights. For the traffic circle, the Town has set aside an amount of approximately $330,000 in its three-year capital expenditure plan.

 

Also worth noting is the work to be done along the banks of the streams (overseen by the Ministère du développement durable, de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques) that cross the intersection.

Conclusion

  • Better solution, better investment of public funds. Solution better suited to the anticipated maximum population growth.
  • Heightened safety; motorists must slow down in order to enter the traffic circle (speed of 25 km/h);
  • Bicycle and pedestrian paths are added to ensure pedestrians, schoolchildren and cyclists can pass safely; 
  • Makes it easier for agricultural vehicles and heavy machinery to turn;
  • Requires the acquisition of shorter strips of land;
  • Estimates provided by Hydro-Québec to protect the pedestal as part of the addition of the traffic circle = $100,000  (instead of $365,000); This reduces the number of Hydro-Québec power poles that need to be moved.

 

* Cost of living indexing - 2.5%/per year 

Traffic circle

Traffic circle: planning road infrastructures proactively

In light of the petition entitled « Arrêt de négociations d'achat de terrains ou propriétés prématuré » recently launched on social media concerning the construction of a traffic circle at the corner of Avenue Bédard and Chemin Saint-Louis, and aimed at halting current negotiations with homeowners concerned by the project, the Town wishes to rectify certain facts, clarify perceptions and comments shared on social media:

  • For several years now, the Town has been closely monitoring traffic and traffic delays for motorists at the corner of Avenue Bédard and Chemin Saint-Louis;
  • In 2013, the Town asked for a cost assessment for the realization of a traffic light versus a traffic circle: the traffic circle was proved to be the cheapest option (close to $600,000 less than the traffic light – an amount indexed to reflect the costs in 2016) and the safest option, notably for heavy vehicles.
  • According to transportation and traffic experts, the traffic circle is a longer-term solution, which offers better fluidity compared to a traffic light; a recreational path is also planned for additional cyclist and pedestrian safety (See projected plan);
  • In both cases however, whether it is a traffic light or a traffic circle, the acquisition of land parcels is necessary. In addition, let us note that a much wider area would be required for the construction of a  traffic light; The traffic circle would therefore be the cheapest, safest option with the lesser impact on the quality of life of the people concerned by the project;
  • Discussions are already underway with all the people concerned by this eventual traffic circle to minimise impact and fix acquisition terms;
  •  Let’s note that the realisation of a traffic circle can span over a 2 year-period from start to finish;
  • Land parcel acquisitions in 2017 will allow to finalise the first step of a long process;
  • It will be up to members of the 2017-2019 Council to pronounce themselves on municipal projects they wish to prioritize, including the traffic circle project, during the 2018 budget planning and the2018-2020 three-year plan;

Why a traffic circle?

  • Over the last few years, traffic flow studies have revealed the situation is in constant deterioration;
  • Currently, several residential projects are developing in and around Town. These projects will bring several hundred new families, which will have for effect to increase the number of vehicles on the road, which will, in turn, exercise additional pressure on our main arteries, our main entrances and exits.
  • Let’s note, also, the recently announced construction of the new Vaudreuil-Soulanges hospital by the Quebec government. The  construction expected to  start  in 2018, will also attract additional families, new companies and exercise additional pressure on the road network;
  • Also, according to the demographic perspectives of the 2011-2031 Quebec institute of statistics ( ISQ), Saint-Lazare can expect to see its population increase by 25 %, bringing its total population numbers to 24 245 residents;
  • And finally we know the 3 preferred main Saint-Lazare entrances/exits used by our residents are increasingly busy at rush hours, including:
    • Route de la Cité-des-Jeunes  coming from Vaudreuil (a main artery that belongs to the Quebec Transport ministry);
    • Exists 28 and 26 on Avenue Daoust/Bédard (on the Vaudreuil-Dorion territory); and
    • Exit 22 on Côte Saint-Charles;

When factoring in all this information, it is a wiser more strategic decision to not wait for heavy traffic problems and traffic jams before initiating the 2-year process. This will ensure traffic is managed proactively with less overall impact on our population, as well as access to our businesses and downtown core.

Hoping this information has been useful. We invite you to submit any other questions or concerns you may have at

Ville de Saint-Lazare © 2002-2017
1960, chemin Sainte-Angélique, Saint-Lazare (Québec), J7T 3A3
Telephone: 450 424-8000

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