In particular, he is referring to the proposed motion put forth to construct a 350-metre sidewalk on the south side of Second Line East between Old Garden River Road and Great Northern Road.
The July 16th motion approved a plan that would see a sidewalk created along the Second Line perimeter of the Water Tower Inn property. It was anticipated that work would be completed this year.
However, Councillors Bruni and Hupponen put forth the motion to reconsider after speaking with Hilsinger, who wants council to consider an asphalt trail instead of a sidewalk. He is willing to provide some property along the perimeter of the Water Tower Inn where it meets with the Shell gas station. In a prepared speech to council, Hilsinger proposed an eight-foot wide trail that would be accessible and available to everyone, including those using mobility devices. Specifically, Hilsinger believes it would benefit those using mobility devices and living at the nearby 247-unit Cara Housing co-op as well as students at Sault College and St. Mary’s College. He described the asphalt trail as a safer and more user-friendly way to cross the city’s busiest intersection, Great Northern Road and Second Line East.
Hilsinger said “A trail will give us the chance to enhance our streetscape experience and enhance our business culture.”
Passionate about this topic, Hilsinger has done his research.
Hilsinger hired an engineering company to provide city council with comparative costs of creating a six-foot sidewalk to an eight-foot asphalt path. Figures show a sidewalk would cost $110,000, which city staff confirmed as their estimate as well. The private consultant also estimates the asphalt trail to cost about $53,240. However, city staff say that is dependent on how the path is created.
In terms of safety, Hilsinger would also like to see greater safety with improvements to the Great Northern Road intersection by painting bolder pedestrian markers at the intersection and optimizing the traffic lights.
He called upon the city planners to do more to protect the naturally gifted trails and landscapes as well as streetscapes in the Sault so that our citizens can enjoy the beauty that surrounds us. He also called upon city planners to develop actively.
City Planning Director Don McConnell told council that the Hub Trail was created to “avoid high traffic areas and provide safe passage around the major urban areas and connect major destinations together.” He stated that no part of the 25-kilometre trail runs on arterial roads. Director of Engineering Don Elliot said the best option would be creating a separate cycling lane with a barrier away from high volume entrance points so ensure optimal safety and less vehicular traffic. However, this won’t be considered until it’s time to reconstruct the roadway.
The plan calls for a cycling route from Sackville to Industrial Park roads. The city is looking at the reconstruction of Northern Avenue, from Pine to North streets, and the potential exists for three lanes with a cycling lane implemented along that east-west corridor and city staff believes that route would be safer, with less vehicular traffic and traffic itself would be slower moving.
Questions raised by Elliot in regards to the trail come from a design perspective. An official cost would depend largely on Shell’s response to the construction, and if barriers are needed to be built to delineate the trail.
He also said asphalt is cheaper to build but needs to be redone more often.
Councillors and city staff are also unsure of how the asphalt trail will link up the Hub Trail. Councillor Niro argued that it would act as a starting point. Councillor Grandinetti proposed painting the edges of the asphalt trail to be more cost effective, or carry the trail over the Water Tower property, turning it into a sidewalk from the gas station if needed.
The July 16th motion was amended so that reconstruction will continue with sidewalk work being postponed. The sidewalk versus asphalt path will be discussed at council on September 10th. At the first September meeting, city staffers will come back with a report on what it would entail to build the trail and if it is feasible to do so.