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Motordom in Action: Edmonton Development and Roads

February 4, 2016

An interesting little item in yesterday’s Edmonton Journal about developer contributions for new infrastructure:

Road building rules around new Edmonton developments are about to get a revamp — but just how the jobs get funded may prove to be a speed bump.


work on the Anthony Henday around Edmonton

The city’s transportation committee received a report Wednesday outlining options to change the way highway penetrators — large roadways that serve as feeder routes into the city — are dealt with when subdivisions are built around them.

“Typically, subdivisions are built and land is dedicated for roads to carry that traffic through a four-lane road,” said transportation manager Dorian Wandzura. “In our agreement with the province around provincial highways that come farther into the city limits, they’ve asked for a bigger carrying capacity because they’re an extension of a provincial highway.

The report includes five roadways considered penetrators on the west and south parts of the city — Stony Plain Road, Whitemud Drive, 23rd Avenue, Terwillegar Drive and 50th Street. It recommends standardizing the system so developers are limited to dedicating land for six lanes of penetrators but also requiring developers to construct four of them.


Whitemud Drive


Basically, the deeper a developer builds into the City of Edmonton, the more road capacity they are responsible for providing. Seems a fine way to incentivize greater development and sprawl outside the city limits and car-dependency inside it. Not surprisingly, some developers are opposed.

“Users can’t also pay for that because others are benefiting as well,” said Brad Armstrong, vice president of community development with Qualico Communities, a company that has a number of properties in various phases of development in the city.

Russell Dauk, who spoke on behalf of the Rohit Group, said developers are happy to share the cost of road building in areas where they are building homes. But since a six-lane road likely serves more people than just those moving into the homes, the cost should be spread to others in the region.

“Coun. Scott McKeen reminded that, for the city, that leaves one option. The only other option we have would be the general taxpayer,” said McKeen.

“Coun. Michael Oshry, who chairs the committee, also brought up the fact that developers should be working those costs into their business models, but agreed they have a valid argument if the cost is simply going to be shifted to home buyers. The committee agreed to let administration come up with amendments to the city’s arterial road policy and bring them to council.


This is a very clumsy formula that essentially mandates sprawl in one form or another. It’s telling that simply not building more road capacity is not an option at all.  

Item from Ian: False Creek Flats meeting tonight – Feb 4

February 4, 2016

Looking for a date tonight?  Join Ian here:


False Creek Flats Planning Program

You’re invited to review and give your feedback on the emerging directions developed from our False Creek Flats Phase 1 public consultation.  More details here.


February 4

4:30 to 7:00 pm

National Works Yards, 701 National Avebue


The False Creek Flats is a major job centre in Vancouver with a critical role in our local and regional economy’s future.



About 8,000 people work at over 600 diverse businesses in the Flats, an area of over 450 acres that’s less than one kilometer to downtown and the port.

Many of our city’s residential neighbourhoods, as well as downtown retail and service industry, rely on many of these businesses for waste management, digital media, clean technology, transportation, food services, and more.

With the Vancouver Economic Commission, we’ll work with you to help the Flats flourish as a more productive, sustainable, and connected area of our city.


The Gallery of Incomplete Infrastructure

February 4, 2016

Bike Lane Division, which is where they almost always are.




Michael Kluckner found this in Cordoba, Spain.


UBC Urban Design Forum – March 9-11

February 4, 2016


Click to enlarge.

How to tell your date his light rail is actually a streetcar

February 4, 2016

Many PT readers will by now have seen some of these snazzy renderings of NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposed light rail along 17 miles (27.3 kms) of the Brooklyn-Queens waterfront.






Streetcar map


The purpose of this roughly $2B line is laudable: provide transportation access along one of the city’s fastest-growing development areas. Like many cities, NYC is no longer strictly a ‘spoke and wheel’ entity, with commuters rushing into Manhattan and then back out again. More people now live and work across and between the boroughs. And aside from a single local bus line, there is no transit along the East River’s east shore.

However, there’s a catch. It will be a streetcar, not a fully-dedicated light rail. Traveling with vehicle traffic, it will only average 12mph (19 km/hr) and take about 1 hour 15 minutes to travel from Astoria, Queens to Red Hook, Brooklyn. This trip will test patience. Riding it will make you swear you could lie down in the street and grow that distance quicker. I’m curious to see how long NY’ers will be enamored with this proposal as its details become more commonly known.

Just ask the folks in Edmonton, where the transit system recently opened up the much-delayed and problematic Metro Line light rail line from downtown to the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT). Untangling the new extension’s signalling problems is the stuff of masters’ theses, and Edmontonions were annoyed about the delays in its opening. But when they realized that the line would cause real, actual traffic delays, the poutine hit the fan.




Self-described transit supporter and Edmonton National Post reporter Tristin Hopper called the new line ““the equivalent of a candy company releasing a new chocolate bar called ‘Herpes Al-Qaeda’.” That’s both funny and harsh, and I look forward to reading his column when he realizes the the planned Valley Line (western extension) towards the Edmonton Mall will run as a fully-integrated streetcar with no dedicated right of way along some of the city’s busiest arterial roads.

Screenshot 2016-02-03 23.04.25


Back our way, Surrey’s light rail will not have these problems. Both lines will function more like Edmonton’s older north-south network does now: mostly along their own rights-of-way but with signalized priority across intersecting streets.

So, streetcars are cheaper and provide far fewer benefits than dedicated light rail, yet more than buses. Are they worth it? Do you support such a system around False Creek or Olympic Village? Along 3rd Street and Marine Drive on the North Shore? A return to the 1940 network?



What about streetcars in the old Lower Mainland?

Ohrn in Mexico – 5

February 4, 2016

Walking to Work In Zihua.


Ohrn Mex - 5

Recollections of a New York City Transit Strike

February 3, 2016

Blogger Samantha Moller recounts the 2005 NYC Transit Strike, which I recall as more anger than actual inconvenience. I don’t believe Translink has struck in at least 15 years, but it begs the question. What is your Plan B if they do?


I worked for an educational publisher over Penn Station at 34th Street on the west side during the 2005 New York transit strike. Most of the editorial staff made too little money to live anywhere but in the most far-flung boroughs and our reliable morning commute was about to be upended.


Screenshot 2016-02-02 19.35.49


Our company was one of those old-fashioned places that insisted on bum-in-seat from 9 to 5 even though our wordsmith jobs could have easily adapted themselves to telecommuting. Even with the prospect of all NYC transit halting with little notice we were expected to show up at our desks on time.



transit strike 2005

Not as fun as it looks


Screenshot 2016-02-02 19.35.37

Still not as fun


The first day of the strike was a cold December morning. We walked from Greenpoint, Brooklyn, crossed the bridge over to Long Island City into Queens for what were then new water taxis into the city — a service available only since a recent spate of bland glass development had turned a former derelict wharf district into ‘Little Toronto’.



Our hero


It was a long wait for a ferry, because it was New York. Thousands of other people had the same idea. A short ride and $15 later we walked from the east side of 34th Street to 8th Avenue.


Screenshot 2016-02-02 19.37.31

Saved by gentrification


I did view the city differently after the strike experience. It’s one thing to be aware of all of those subways stops zooming by, and something else when you have to walk every block of your commute. The commute was over three miles one way and took about an hour. Actually, not much longer than than the 40 minutes it took me when using transit, but certainly more expensive and noteworthy.


Does anyone (other than George Puil) have any remembrances they’d like to share of the four-month (123 days) Translink strike of 2001?


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