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Multi-use Trail Hard – Medicine to Prescribe and Swallow


This project consisted of the upgrade of South Ridge Drive, a residential collector roadway in the City’s south side, to an arterial standard due to increased volumes and congestion driven by growth. The client (City of Medicine Hat) wanted to provide an upgrade that also accommodated active transportation modes. The challenge was to provide the right active transportation facility within the corridor and especially within the much narrower right of way (~25 m) that existed in one third of the corridor. A public process was developed for the project as a whole. Several active transportation (AT)-related issues arose during this process. The objective became to design an AT facility that met the needs of non-motorized users and encouraged new users, all while balancing the competing demands of property owners, available ROW, cost-effectiveness, safety, drainage, parking, maintenance, environmental impacts and the requirements of the roadway geometric upgrade. A backgrounder document was provided to the client that summarized the pros and cons, design characteristics and associated signage and pavement markings of onstreet vs. off-street facilities. Four facility types were considered: (a) shared on-street bike lanes, (b) exclusive on-street bike lanes, (c) 3.0 m off-street multi-use trail (MUT) and (d) 4.0 m segregated, signed, marked, MUT. Numerous iterations (16) of cross sections showing the various alternatives that were developed and analyzed. As the project was a retrofit in an established neighborhood, the decision on which facility type to incorporate into the project was to be made by City Council. In order to provide a higher degree of objectiveness, and provide Council with as much information as possible on the various alternatives and allow them to make a more objective and informed decision, an evaluation matrix was developed to rank the alternatives to facilitate the decision making process. This quasi-“Triple Bottom Line” analysis considered 32 criteria categorized into three different groups – social, environmental and economic. Based on the outcome of the analysis, Council decided that a 3.0 m off-street facility was the best solution. This preferred design, which incorporated concerns raised by the public process where possible, was presented at a final open house. It incorporated TAC’s new “elephant feet” crossings at intersections and a 1.0 m boulevard between the roadway and the MUT which were both subsequently removed for various reasons. 

Conference Paper Details

Session title:
Chris Poirier
Geometric design