Narrower road lanes part of Vernon’s plans to reduce costs

On Monday, Vernon council gave approval to the integrated transportation framework

Road widths will be shrinking and there will be clear rules about who maintains public boulevard.

On Monday, Vernon council gave approval to the integrated transportation framework, which focuses on reducing cost pressures while meeting the long-term needs of the public.

“In my 30 years of experience, this is the most comprehensive, forward-thinking plan to protect publicly owned assets,” said Will Pearce, chief administrative officer.

“This is a fundamental building block for the development of our community, the lifestyle we share and to attract investors to the community.”

About $6.7 million a year is available for road renewal and maintenance but $8.4 million a year would be needed to rebuild and maintain the exact same network. That results in a $1.7 million annual shortfall.

To find savings, a number of initiatives are planned, including reducing road lane widths from 3.5 to 3.25 metres.

The primary focus will be new roads linked to new development, but incremental changes could occur on existing roads as they are upgraded. This could save $0.3 million a year.

“We’re not going to see massive changes tomorrow,” said Mark Dowhaniuk, infrastructure engineer.

Staff has also been directed to investigate methods to increase the service life or generate applicable revenue for 27th Street.

“It’s our busiest and most expensive road,” said Dowhaniuk. “It costs $100,000 extra a year to maintain that road.”

Options for reducing costs are improving standards to reduce long-term work or issuing permits to large trucks that cause most of the wear on 27th Street.

The integrated transportation framework also calls on staff to define the responsibility of home owners when it comes to the maintenance of adjacent boulevards.

“We’re really tying to control the costs the city is responsible for through policy,” said Dowhaniuk.

“Maintaining grass and trees becomes quite expensive for taxpayers. We need a clear policy because people aren’t clear (about having to mow lawn and other activities).”

More information can be found at http://www.vernon.ca/index.php/projects/asset-management-integrated-transportation-framework/

“We have taken a logical, scientific approach to dealing with the infrastructure deficit,” said Coun. Catherine Lord.

Mayor Rob Sawatzky insists this process is essential to maintain a sustainable community.

“Many communities opt for pretty, photo-op projects, but a plan like this is probably the most important municipal housekeeping effort we can provide for our citizens,” he said.