As reported in The Standard, Welland Avenue between Grantham and Bunting will be reduced from four lanes to two, and gain a centre turning lane and bike lanes. The same will be applied to Vine Street between Lakeshore and Carlton.
It has been my experience that biking across the city (as opposed to within one’s neighbourhood) is difficult outside some isolated corridors, like the Welland Canal Trail. We are getting closer to a complete system of bicycle lanes in the north end that will make meaningful bicycle travel safer and simpler.
But we shouldn’t let these accomplishments go to our heads. There are still stretches of road that are off-limits to cautious (prudent?) bicyclists, like the crossings of highway 406 and the QEW. Many intersections, even with bike lanes, remain terrifying (try making a left turn).
Two areas of concern – one minor, one major – from the Standard article:
Construction of the first station — at Casablanca Boulevard and the QEW in Grimsby — will start in June, with service to St. Catharines and possibly two locations in Niagara Falls by September, said Peter Smith, GO Transit’s chairman.
This seems a little optimistic, don’t you think? Planning for the Grimsby station has been underway for some time now; certainly more than the five months expected to plan and construct something in St. Catharines.
The locations of the new GO stations in St. Catharines and Niagara Falls still have to be determined, said Bradley, the provincial transportation minister, but GO always wants its stations to be close to a major highway, so they will be somewhere along the QEW corridor.
A GO station at Lake and the QEW (or whatever interchange they choose) would squander some of the potential of the GO connection. I recognize that GO tends to favour the park-and-ride model, but it doesn’t need to be that way and it puts the people who cannot afford to drive in the first place at a disadvantage. Downtown is highly accessible by public transportation and it is right on highway 406. Having a comfortable, regular, public connection to Burlington and points beyond would have a far greater positive impact on downtown than the north end. (And its a designated urban growth centre, which ought to settle the matter without question.)
GO Transit is coming to Niagara.
St. Catharines MPP Jim Bradley and St. Catharines MP Rick Dykstra announced
Sunday $2.5 million in federal and provincial infrastructure funding to
build four new park and ride GO bus stations in Niagara.
Construction on the first station at Casablanca Boulevard and the QEW in
Grimsby will start in June, with service to St. Catharines and possibly two
locations in Niagara Falls by September.
Niagara Region may, in a few years, have to replace the Burgoyne Bridge which carries St. Paul Street over Twelve Mile Creek. The bridge was opened in 1914 to replace a swing bridge over the Second Welland Canal in the valley below. Before the new bridge, St. Catharines had no fixed link to its train station.
Here’s a Google Map. Here’s a little history.
I hope this new bridge (or a renovation of the current bridge) makes access to downtown a little easier on foot and bike. Today, some of the most uncomfortable places to travel without a car are the bridges across Highway 406. In particular, I’m thinking of Welland/Fourth, Ontario/Westchester, and Geneva. These bridges are straight and wide, and consequently cars race across them as if they are a part of the highway below.
There will be a temptation to add more lanes if a new bridge is built, but I’m not sure that would be necessary. Cars have to move fairly slowly on either side of this bridge because its an old part of the city and the road is narrow. They shouldn’t be encouraged to zoom ahead for the thirty seconds (or so) it takes to cross. Instead, I’d like to see wider sidewalks and the addition of bicycle lanes. West St Catharines is within walking and biking distance of downtown; more people might opt to access downtown this way if it were less unpleasant to cross Twelve Mile Creek.
Take a look at the postcard above. That beautiful bridge was replaced by a harsh concrete overpass over the 406. Right now it is quite impressive to pass under the Burgoyne Bridge on your way into the city; let’s keep it that way, even if it is a new bridge.
Both photos are from the Niagara Falls Public Library. You can find thousands more at their website.
This is more exciting than seeing an article about Canada in the NY Times! The Post’s James Cowan wrote yesterday about St Catharines’ gamble on the arts.
It’s nothing too controversial; neither optomistic or pessimistic. Still, it’s good to hear from outside the city on this, and find out how similar ventures have gone in a couple other places.
Apropos of this, I want to go on record saying I really like the reconstruction of Glenridge Avenue, south of the railway, as a partial boulevard. The recently planted trees will make it especially nice.
The ‘burbs are pretty bland, but our streets don’t need to be. One of my favourite parts of staying in the city last summer was watching the trees reveal their unique identities. Some have pink flowers, some bear fruit, some shed fluff. Each discovery is a little moment of wonder.
You shouldn’t argue that moments of wonder are not sufficiently important to merit taxpayer dollars. We work to live, after all, and these are the sorts of things that make life good.
More practically, I appreciate how the median “shrinks” the road. With houses and business set relatively far back from the road, it gives drivers a better sense of their speed.
The median also makes two-stage crossing possible if you’re willing to clamber over it, though ideally the city/region would put in formal crossings where people are jaywalking. (Most people, for example, don’t walk the 200 ft or so from the Belton Blvd bus stop to cross at Dennis Morris.)
Glenridge Avenue could be a model for improvements to other suburban arterials in the city. (Maybe it already is; I don’t get north of Fairview Mall very often.)
The OMB has approved the Port Place tower, leaving disappointed residents no recourse.