Bronson south of Somerset

  What can be done south of Somerset? So in this post, the Somerset to Gladstone stretch.

South of Somerset the traffic count goes up. Recall that the Laurier to Somerset section had 16-20,000 AADT (annual average daily traffic) with under 4% trucks. South of Somerset, it increases  to 21-26,000 AADT with almost 5% being trucks (2003 and 2008 traffic counts).

This is still within the “normal” band of volume suitable for converting a four lane road into a three lane road. But it is at the upper limit. I predict Ottawa engineers would be very unhappy trying these volumes (some road diets have worked with volumes of up to 31,000 AADT, but it depends on the number of intersections, driveways, road geometry, etc).

There are measures that can make it possible to convert busy stretches of Bronson from four lanes to three. The key to handling the volume lies at the intersections. Gladstone is a busy intersection. It needs major repair. It is grossly difficult to cross for pedestrians and cyclists, especially going east-west along Gladstone. Would you let your 9 year old walk to school at that crossing?? I didn’t think so. How about your 85 year old mother? (the latter may depend on whether you are in her will or not).

Yet to make the stretches of Bronson between major intersections work as three lanes, the intersections themselves have to be set up to handle the volume of traffic efficently for cars.

My suggestion would be to try Bronson north of Somerset as three lanes this summer, by repainting the lanes. When that works, examine how to repaint the section from Somerset to Gladstone in 2012, before actual road rebuilding is done in 2013.  Use the lessons learned from the first summer’s effort; and convene a genuine discussion amongst stakeholders at the Gladstone end as to what the problems are there, what the potential solutions are, and send in the painting crews. Paint is cheap; lives are not.

A better variation on the above “timetable” would be to postpone the reconstruction of Bronson south of Somerset by one year. This would give one season (2010) to try the painted option on Bronson north of Somerset; and one year to construct the new road (2011) and a year to observe the new street, its landscaping, wider sidewalks, etc and determine if the correct balance of user interests has been attained (2012).

As for the stretch of Bronson south from Gladstone, I am reluctant to go there. I lack enough first hand knowledge about the traffic flow there at all seasons. I do know from sitting at Harvey’s (we retired people get very modest dinners out), it is alternately hilarious and scary to watch the steady volume of pedestrians trying to cross Bronson at Arlington. And I hate crossing Raymond. Or walking under the Qway. And the stretch up to Carling is awful for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists. While I seldom drive a car, I simply will not try to turn left off Bronson onto Isabella to get to the Qway. Too dangerous.

Note: these Bronson posts have been edited a bit and put into a single word document, which I will send to anyone who wants it. Of course, I have already sent it to Councillor Holmes and the traffic engineers for Bronson. Please send links to your concillor, candidates for office, and anyone else. Then go the public meetings to be held for Bronson and let them know, loudly, what you think.

2 thoughts on “Bronson south of Somerset

  1. Eric, I suggest that as part of the pilot, the left lane of Bronson northbound from about Gladstone should be painted as a left turn lane, with advance signage indicating that Somerset St is ahead.This would provide the lane drop for the 3-lane section north of Somerset, and fix most of the craziness at the Somerset intersection.

  2. This is a great post. Having lived on Bronson, I am aware of its many challenges, especially to pedestrians. Simple changes to the structure of the street like the ones you suggest would go a long way in making it an attractive place to live and walk. Keep up the good work.Nicolas

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