Coun. Hilary Payne not certain pedestrian tunnel complete solution

A shot of traffic going under the CN Rail overpass on Dougall Avenue, Windsor.

Windsor city officials say there is not enough room to build a sidewalk at the CN Rail overpass on Dougall Avenue. One solution is an underpass. (Stacey Janzer / CBC)

Pedestrians and cyclists looking to travel safely on Dougall Avenue at the CN Rail overpass close to the intersection with the E.C Row Expressway could be seeing some relief.

Windsor’s environment, transportation and public safety standing committee is meeting to discuss improved pedestrian safety measures at that roadway. Those options include sidewalks and a tunnel under the CN rail overpass.

“Anything is possible if you’re prepared to spend enough money,” Coun. Hilary Payne, who is a member of the committee, told CBC Radio’s Windsor Morning. “But it would be a challenging engineering job to [build a tunnel] and maintain the safety.”

City administration is presenting a report Wednesday providing an update on possible improvements to the ‘central box’ area. It’s the part of Windsor generally bounded by Eugenie Street, Howard Avenue, West Grand/South Cameron Boulevard and Dominion Boulevard.

A map depicting the "central box" area of Windsor.

The City of Windsor is looking for public feedback on a possible traffic solution for the ‘central box’ area of the city. (Google)

Dougall Avenue is one of Windsor’s busiest roads, with an average of 42,700 vehicles per day, according to the report to be submitted to the committee.

The road cannot accommodate four lanes of traffic and sidewalks the way it is currently designed. One opportunity to get around this issue is to build a tunnel underneath the CN Rail overpass, the report states. An initial cost estimate suggests the tunnel would cost $1 million.

Apart from the tunnel, other sidewalks and bike paths need to be installed on Ouellette Avenue, north of Eugenie Street, through Jackson Park, and on Ouellette Avenue north of Tecumseh Road, Payne said.

Payne wants to see the report and hear all of the arguments both for and against the tunnel. But right now he said he has “serious reservations” about the proposal.

“It’s important for public safety, but other things are important for public safety too, and that’s safe roads generally,” he said. “That situation at the overpass is an especially difficult and expensive problem to solve. There is no easy answer there.”

An environmental assessment on the ‘central box’ project still needs to be completed and presented to council. The earliest any money could be earmarked for the repairs would be the 2017 capital works budget, Payne said.

Source: CBC News