FOR THE GAZETTE
Detailed plans for enhanced transportation in Prince Edward County could be on the horizon.
The transportation master plan (TMP) was presented to Prince Edward County council during Tuesday’s regular council meeting, which included a comprehensive proposal on walking, cycling, vehicular travel and road recommendations.
The plan is designed to help guide the municipality in implementing long-term transportation infrastructure in the County.
Brett Sears, of Toronto-based consultancy firm WSP, presented the plan, which he said is a long-range blueprint of how to implement the transportation network in the community.
“The purpose was to identify issues and opportunities with travel in the County,” Sears explained.
The TMP briefly notes cycling recommendations, following the Cycling Master Plan presentation to council in May of this year.
Sears said during the public consultation process through the project website, there were 1,600 site visit and 82 survey responses, with 54 per cent of respondents living and working in the County.
Public concerns included a lack of alternatives to driving, concerns with urban congestion during peak season, pedestrian and cyclist safety at key “pinch points” like the Picton Town Hall, Millennium Trail crossings and high speed roads.
“We took an approach on all four modes of transportation to identify existing conditions and then to eventually identify what we would recommend,” Sears said.
The firm recommended enhancing the walking experience by adding 1.3 kilometers of new pedestrian facilities, including three intersection crossings – one of which, he said, is the Picton town hill. These proposed facilities would fill the gap of missing links, Sears said.
As an example, he said, Wellington Main Street, which has a portion of street connecting to the Millenium Trail, has no existing sidewalk.
Council signed the agreement for the transfer of $296,497.76 in provincial grant funding for reconstruction of Picton’s town hill following Sears’ presentation Tuesday night.
In terms of transit improvements, Sears noted the existing transit service that runs from Picton to Belleville through Bloomfield.
“This operaties limited service hours and with limited stops and serves only a portion of the community,” he said.
Sears’ recommendation is to develop partnerships with local taxi services or wine tour operators to provide seasonal or additional on-demand services, rather than to add more transit routes to the existing service. He noted on-demand services have become increasingly popular, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He also suggested implementing bus shelters at fixed stops to “improve the transit experience” and to develop transit packages or fair incentives with VIA Rail and surrounding municipalities.
Coun. Mike Harper said Wellington is in need of a bypass to reduce high traffic volumes and transports travelling through the village’s narrow Main Street.
Sears noted the issue has come up during public consultation, and it is a matter of balancing resources.
Coun. Bill McMahon mentioned other busing services in the County that the TMP should take into consideration, to which Sears agreed.
The presentation stated next steps include council endorsement, a notice of study completion followed by a 30-day review and finalization of policies and intersection review.
Council received the draft master plan for information.