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At this time the city is in the preliminary planning stages for this project. Over the coming months we will procure an engineering consultant to do the detailed design work. In the spring residents may notice various activities occurring on the street in support of the detailed design process, such as surveyors completing a topographical survey or drillers completing a geotechnical investigation to assess soil and groundwater conditions.
During the preliminary planning of this project, city staff have made note of several existing issues that will need further consideration during the design phase of the project. These issues include, but are not limited to:
- Existing sidewalks do not meet minimum width requirements under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). The AODA requires that sidewalks be a minimum 1.5 metres wide, whereas sidewalks on Herbert Street have been measured to be between 1.2 and 1.4 metres wide, depending on location. Therefore the sidewalks are required to be widened.
- There are many mature trees on Herbert Street, some immediately adjacent to existing sidewalk and underground infrastructure. The preservation or removal of these trees will depend on the choices made during design, although it should be noted that some tree removal may be required in certain areas due to the presence of nearby underground utilities.
- Narrow boulevards. The city has been made aware of the difficulties managing snow in winter with the current narrow boulevard. On the east side of Herbert the boulevard cannot be made any narrower as there needs to remain space for overhead utility poles. Removal of the boulevard would also make it especially challenging to construct a sidewalk that adheres to AODA and could create steep driveway ramps that lead to vehicles “bottoming out” when entering or exiting the driveway.
- The one way nature of the street limits options for cycling without using higher stress streets such as Union. For example, those living between Union and John would be legally required to bike to and ride on Union Street in order to access Mary Allen Park or Elizabeth Ziegler School, or they would have to walk their bicycles on the sidewalk to John. The implementation of contraflow bike lanes (that allow for two-way bike traffic on one-way streets) would improve active transportation options for local residents of all ages to more easily and directly access low stress streets within their neighbourhood. It would also provide improved options for cycling between the neighbourhood and Uptown Waterloo. The implementation of contraflow bike lanes has already been raised to City staff by some local residents.
A contraflow bike lane allows cyclists to travel in both directions while vehicles can only go in one direction.
- The road cannot be narrowed any further and still maintain on-street parking. If the road was to be narrowed in order to provide space for other aspects of the road (i.e. wider sidewalks or wider boulevards), on-street parking will need to be removed.
When the City’s engineering consultant begins detailed design one of the first things they will need to do is determine how to allocate space for each piece of infrastructure. This process will result in making choices about what improvements can be made and what may need to be lost as result. Reconstructing the road as it is now is not an option as the widening of the sidewalk is a legal requirement. To aid the City in determining how to best redesign the street, residents can click on the “Survey” tab and fill out a survey to indicate how they value various aspects of the street. The responses will help in the decision making process.
For reference, the following examples are provided to help residents understand some possible trade offs:
- If on-street parking is to be preserved, a handful of mature trees would need to be removed, with several other younger trees being at risk, in order to widen the sidewalks toward the property line.
- If the sidewalks were widened towards the street, on-street parking would need to be removed; however if on-street parking were removed we may still have space to implement contraflow bike lanes or wider boulevards, or possibly both.
- If the sidewalks were widened towards the street and on-street parking removed, it may be possible to install a few parallel parking spots in front of Monica Place as there would be no loss of trees between the sidewalk and property line if a parking lay-by were added in that particular location.
To aid residents in their decision making process, the City’s Forestry department has assessed the health of the trees within the publicly owned right-of-way along Herbert Street between Allen Street and Union Street. Most of the trees are in good condition, with the following noted exceptions:
- Ash trees in front of 208, 220 and 230 Herbert St - All three trees showing signs of emerald ash borer damage or they have been cabled and will likely start showing signs soon
- Sugar maple in front of 214 Herbert St – Has been heavily pruned to avoid overhead hydro wires. Leans towards the house with most of its weight over the house.
- Norway maple in front of 228 Herbert St – Tree has girdling roots with an old wound and is starting to decline
- Sugar maple in front of 231 Herbert – Tree contains lots of dead wood and is in decline.
- Sugar Maple in front of 40 John St E – Starting to decline and has a lean towards the house
- Sugar maple in front of 53 Allen St E – Has major cavity in trunk and very heavy lean
The City’s forestry department has indicated that the ash trees should be removed proactively, regardless of whether or not they are to be affected by construction.