The City of Fredericton just spent $150,000 on a traffic study.  Was it money well spent? It’s hard to say, there are definitely several things wrong with it:

The biggest problem is that most of the calculations were done using simulators only. The report notes: “the simulation model was not calibrated to existing conditions to replicate local driver behaviour” (page 29).  Many of the intersections that were studied actually function much worse because of driver behaviour. Blocking intersections and stopping at merge lanes is probably one of the greatest causes of congestion in Fredericton.  While much of this could be cured with enforcement and education, it still should be factored into the planning process.

To keep this blog post short, I’ll only go over a few specific examples:

Beaverbrook Street/Forest Hill Road/Lincoln Road/Waterloo Row: They ran it through the simulator and decided to ignore it without giving any reason. If you ask any citizen as to which intersection they hate the most, you’ll get this one at the top of the list.  This would be a prime location for a traffic circle, yet that option wasn’t even explored.  The confusing layout wasn’t even examined either.  It also isn’t really a single intersection, it’s five intersections really close together; perhaps that skewed some of the statistics. (Page 29)

At Regent and Prospect, they completely ignored the existing proposal of a College Hill to Vanier Highway overpass.  They also ignored the fact that since you can’t turn left from Regent onto Vanier, you have to do a significant amount of driving around, which causes higher traffic on other streets.  In the end, they will spend $7.5 million just to get some double-left turn lanes, which doesn’t seem to have a lot of value. (page 78)

There is a lack of supporting data for the Queen St. redirection in front of the convention centre.  “The impact” of that development is mentioned several times in the report, but not shown.  This omission still doesn’t answer the question of whether it is really necessary to spend $1.2 million to widen Queen St. (page 70)

In conclusion, they are planning to spend millions using decisions based on questionable simulator data.  Perhaps it would be a wise investment to spend some more money and do a more thorough analysis before spending millions on road improvements that may not work out.