The Taylor Drive improvements are done and the area is now open for public use.
Beginning in May, the City closed off much of Taylor Drive and adjacent roadways to begin the massive project that included sewer line upgrades, improved roadways and traffic flow, safety upgrades that include better lighting and designated crosswalks and connectivity between the greater downtown core and the Riverlands.
“Overall, the project went really well. It was practically on time and on budget. We’ve enhanced pedestrian crossings, added multi-use trails, improved drivability and have been able to connect much of the greater downtown area,” said Wayne Gustafson, capital projects coordinator for the City.
The project came in with a combined budget of approximately $18 million when the sewer updates, major road reconstruction, and beautification are all taken into account. Gustafson was happy to note that the construction of the project was completed about $1 million under budget.
The project included work from 45 St. all the way to Taylor Drive Bridge, and from 52 Ave. to Taylor Drive, work on Ross Street, and a little bit of work on 54th Ave. and Alexander Way.
“It’s been a big question for the public – ‘Why did we do all of this?’ There are three main reasons for that: the connectivity between all the different roadway users and the greater downtown area, the capacity of the road being able to handle a lot of traffic and being able to put off a big capital expenditure on the Taylor Drive bridge,” said Gustafson.
“The key areas to connect were the downtown core, Riverlands – where the old public works buildings used to be, and then the Railyards community. Those three districts needed to be tied together with multi-use trails and access points for pedestrians, cyclists and motor vehicles.”
Citizens met the project with some scrutiny, but the completion of the project is crucial for development into the Riverlands area, which is slated to become a new residential neighbourhood, he said.
The safety of the crossings at Taylor Drive and Ross Street are also a major upgrade as previously, there were no designated crosswalks or walkways for pedestrian use. Safety was a major concern for the busy intersection, and now there are multiple clearly designated crosswalks with pedestrian lights to improve accessibility.
As mentioned, one of the key aspects of the project was to link the greater downtown area in terms of providing a natural connectivity between the downtown core, the Riverlands area and the Railyards division.
This connectivity will lay the foundation for a new subdivision to be easily accessed and to provide a better transition for Red Deer’s growing traffic capacity on the major roadway, he said.
The three-legged intersection now means that motorists will do a little less waiting and a little more driving, which helps to keep traffic flowing. Gustafson said that the change in the layout to a three-legged intersection would maintain traffic flow control, as over 30,000 vehicles pass through the intersection each day.