AMHERST– Pat Skinner was all smiles Dec. 12.
“I’ve been working towards this for a long time,” Skinner, a Centennial Villa resident said, moments after she cut a ribbon to officially open a new crosswalk on Church Street.
“Seeing the crosswalk in place is one of the best days of my life.”
Skinner started lobbying Amherst for a crosswalk that would provide Centennial Villa residents a safer passage to businesses across the street shortly after moving into the villa four years ago.
“This is a busy street, with a lot of cars, which made it difficult for us residents to cross the street safely,” she said. “This crosswalk helps us cross safely.”
She said the crosswalk not only provides protection for Centennial Villa residents, but also makes it safer for other citizens crossing Church Street.
“A lot of people are using it,” Skinner said.
That was evident by the large number of footprints stamped in the snow on the sidewalk leading up to the crosswalk.
Skinner credits Amherst Mayor David Kogon and Police Chief Ian Naylor for her success.
“They listened to our concerns and got it done,” she said, giving both of them a smile and a hug.
“The safety of our citizens is a top priority for council,” Kogon said. “We believe this crosswalk will go a long way in helping to provide that safety to our residents.”
The mayor downplayed his role in getting the crosswalk, which had been requested for years, installed.
“It was really Ian who did the real legwork,” the mayor said.
Naylor, who is the town’s traffic authority, also downplayed his role saying changes to guidelines in the Transportation Association of Canada manual were key factors in getting the crosswalk installed.
The new assessment process outlined in the guidelines takes on a more holistic approach, he said. While pedestrian and traffic volumes are still a part of the assessment, low volume numbers no longer, in themselves, eliminate a location. Additional factors now considered include connectivity and pedestrian desire lines. Simply put, residents of Centennial Villa and their friends and families are crossing Church Street at this location in order to access services in the Pharmasave complex and the Robins Donut building.
There were also other factors unique to this location that relate to quality of life issues, he said, pointing out the existing pedestrian route in place required pedestrians to walk to the intersection of Robert Angus Drive and follow the sidewalk to the entrance of the Pharmasave parking lot. That route is 286 meters further per round trip compared to the route they can now take with the new crosswalk.
“This is a significant quality of life issue for many of the residents of Centennial Villa who have limited or reduced mobility,” Naylor said.
The police chief emphasized that safety, above all, continues to be the key objective of any assessment.
“I would like to thank Pat and those who have worked with her for their contribution, and also for their patience as we worked through the process,” Naylor said. “She was definitely the driving force.”
An assessment completed using the new criteria enabled Naylor to recommend the installation of the crosswalk to council in October. Council approved the project the same month and shortly thereafter town work crews painted the crosswalk on the street, extended a culvert, altered an existing sidewalk to make it wheelchair accessible and built a new sidewalk on the opposite side of the street. Some asphalt patching and landscaping was also done.
The town spent about $5,000 to do the work, with the money coming from the town’s general operating and asphalt patching budgets.