I stopped by the open house that the city was hosting at the Regina Farmers’ Market today to present the recommendations that will be going to City Council as part of the first stage of the Downtown Transportation Study. That addresses short-term measures that could be taken on 11th and 12th Ave and City Square plaza to improve traffic flow.

First, with respect to 11th Ave., no substantive changes are being recommended at this time outside of prohibiting left-turns off of 11th onto Hamilton during peak traffic hours in the late afternoon. As well, the city engineer I spoke with said the city has to do a better job of communicating to motorists the restrictions that exist on parking on 11th during peak traffic times so as not to obstruct bus traffic. When motorists are parked illegally during rush hour, it forces buses to weave in and out of traffic to access their stops and clogs everything up.

Now on to City Square plaza. What the consultant will be recommending to council is that limited west-bound traffic be permitted on the plaza during times when it is not otherwise in use (like it is today for the Farmers’ Market from 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.).

Here’s how it would work. Motorists heading north on 19 block Scarth will have the option of turning right onto 12th as they do now. The consultant is also recommending that they be able to turn left onto the plaza and proceed down to Cornwall. Motorists would not be permitted to use the plaza as a thoroughfare. Instead, they would be required to turn north onto Cornwall. Cornwall, in that block, is two-way, and south-bound motorists will also be permitted to turn right onto the plaza and proceed down to Lorne St. where they would have the option of continuing west on 12th, or turning right onto Lorne (once Lorne is reopened after being closed this summer for construction).

The goal of the recommendations, the engineer said, wasn’t to promote through-traffic in the downtown. Rather, it was to facilitate traffic circulation in the downtown. One example he cited was opening up access to the parkade on 18-block Cornwall. From the looks of things, southbound alley traffic between Scarth & Cornwall and between Cornwall & Lorne would also be able to access the plaza, but they would be retricted to right turns only. When the plaza is in use the city would put temporary barriers into place to deny traffic access.

These recommendations are supposed to go to council fairly soon. Later this summer, phase two of the Downtown Transportation Study will begin which will look at longer term options to promote a range of transportation options in the downtown. With the city’s downtown work force expected to swell by around 5,000 in the next few years, it’s inevitable that people will have to think hard about finding new ways to get downtown outside of driving.