A preliminary design report for the Hall Street Corridor was approved at a council meeting last week.
The document, prepared by consultants at MMM Group, outlines block-by-block roadway improvements that could be undertaken to turn Hall Street into a pedestrian-friendly gateway between Baker Street and the waterfront.
The report recommends creating open plazas at either end of the street — one at IOD park and the other next to the Prestige — and connecting them with wider and move inviting sidewalks and staircases, safer street crossings and more traffic calming measures.
The cost of the project would range from $1.8 to $3 million, depending on the quality of construction.
Landscape architect Rob Fershau of MMM Group explained what would push up the price.
“The difference is in the details — the materials, the methods of construction and refinement,” he explained. For example, different paving materials and finishings cost more but could also make for a more attractive streetscape.
The project would be broken up into at least five phases and undertaken over a number of years. Work in the 300-block, in front of the Nelson and District Community Complex, is the most pressing.
That section of road is already in need of re-surfacing and storm water management on the steep slope has long been a concern. It is also the most challenging section of road, in part because of the steep 17-per-cent grade (typically a steep hill is about 12 per cent).
The city will need to decide whether or not to maintain two-way vehicle traffic through that stretch or make it one-way downhill — although the physical street will be designed to accommodate either, so the traffic patterns could change over time.
If Hall Street were to be made one-way, Cedar Street would become the thoroughfare for uphill traffic. This element of the project proved controversial during the public consultation and the city will evaluate the options further during the detailed design process.
Regardless of the traffic flow, the pedestrian pathway will see significant improvements. The idea is to create so-called “social steps” on the east side of the street — landscaped terraced areas where people can sit and socialize — and a narrower covered walkway along the east side.
The laneway access next to the Kootenay Co-op Radio building would be closed off to improve pedestrian safety. Bioswales and rain gardens could also be incorporated into the design to address the storm water concerns. There would also be room to add bike lanes to the street if there was a demand for it.
The preliminary design report is, as the name suggests, only a preliminary look at what elements could be incorporated into the street. It represents about 30 per cent of the design work that would be needed before any section of the work could be put out to tenure for construction.
The next step for the city is to secure funding to develop a detailed design for one section of the street and hire a company to do the work. The estimated cost for the work on the 300-block ranges from about $250,000 to $410,000.
Landscape architect Fershau suggested the city would do well to have the design ready and out for tenure by this coming spring.
“In the spring is typically when you get the best tenders,” he said.
Elsewhere on the street, the preliminary design suggests improving traffic control at the base of Hall Street, in front of the Prestige. Currently the intersection at Lakeside Drive is a three-way stop, but that could change to either a traffic signal or a roundabout.
None of the proposed changes to Hall Street would result in any net loss of parking. Though some blocks would lose parking spots in favour of wider sidewalks and boulevards, they will be made up through denser angled parking elsewhere.
The plan also considered where else parking could be increased downtown. One suggestion is restricting vehicle traffic on the first three blocks of Victoria Street to only go one-way, which would allow for angled parking on the street.
MMM Group has been incorporating into its plan ideas and feedback from an advisory committee, made up of local business owners and representatives from stakeholder groups. The public also had an opportunity to participate in an open house last spring. Future design phases will include further public consultation.
A copy of the preliminary report is included below.