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Kingston Concerned About the LVEC
Currently known as the "KROCK Centre"
Formerly the "Kingston Regional Sports and Entertainment Centre" or KRSEC
Formerly the "Large Venue Entertainment Centre" or LVEC
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Initial (August 3 2006) Comments and Concerns by Bruce Todd
Kingston Regional Sports and Entertainment Centre Transportation Study (IBI)
Final Report, dated July 2006

Background:

Bruce Todd, who is supposed to be retired from a 40+ year career in traffic engineering, but nonetheless branded an "instant expert" by several pro-LVEC luminaries, none loftier than William Leggett, ex-principal of Queen's University, is briefing everyone about implications of the proposed LVEC / KRSEC on the North Block.

(1) Acceptable Walking Distance

The report does not discuss or give reference to acceptable walking distances as used by the traffic engineering society. I have quoted from the Table found at the following site – www.vtpi.org/tdm/tdm89.htm , on page 2, and reproduced below –

Table 2 Acceptable Walking Distances (Parking Evaluation)

Adjacent
(Less than 100 ft.)
Short
(less than 800 ft)
Medium
(less than 1,200 ft)
Long
(less than 1,600 ft)

People with disabilities
Deliveries and loading
Emergency services
Convenience store

Grocery stores
Professional services
Medical clinics
Residents

General retail
Restaurant
Employees
Entertainment center
Religious institution

Airport parking
Major sport or cultural event
Overflow parking

This table indicates maximum acceptable walking distance from parking to destinations for various activities and users. It assumes good pedestrian conditions (sidewalks, crosswalks, level terrain) that are outdoors and uncovered, with a mild climate.

These distances are adversely affected by such things as narrow sidewalks, barriers such as traffic control signals, etc.

Since it is absolutely essential that a traffic impact study should identify any barriers to good attendance and therefore financial viability of a venue such as the KRSEC, could you comment on why the above industry-standard or some similar table was not used, and could you discuss and give references for the methods used in the report (400 metre and 600 metre circles)?

(2) Wellington Street Extension

Whereas it is stated in Section 1.2 that “major transportation and land use changes outside this area will be taken into consideration, e.g. Wellington Street Extension”, and

Whereas the Wellington Street extension, Phase 1 is presently scheduled for completion in 2011, and

Whereas the report states in Section 4.1 on page 18 that “the extension to Montreal Street is currently planned for the 2008 or 2009 horizon; whereas, the section from Montreal Street to John Counter Boulevard is currently listed as a 2010 or 2011 project, and

Whereas the future background traffic analysis examined in the report is for 2011 (and probably should be for 2013 – see comments later), therefore

Could you explain why this major transportation change was not analyzed in the report, especially in terms of the future impact and especially because the report confirms that the KRSEC will be completed before the completion of the Wellington Street extension?

Could you also explain how you feel that the Wellington Street extension would provide greater access to the parking areas?

You do say in Section 4.1 on page 18 that “the extension [of Wellington Street] is expected to improve traffic operations within the study area”. This is where the report fails, in that it does not follow through with explanations to anyone.

What are these improved operations?

(3) Identification of Data Collection

Although data collection is discussed in Section 2, I find the report lacking in details. In my view, a report such as this should include the specific times of when data was collected, including dates and hours, and the data should be included in the report, and not just referenced to other reports. It is not always possible for others reviewing a report such as this to have ready access to all other reports and have to rummage through several reports to find the data.

Could you please explain why it was decided not to include in this report the specific times, dates etc., and summary tables of the data used, or even at worst, reference to specific pages and tables of other reports?

(4) Use of the CastleGlenn Report

In Section 1, and in other sections, there is reference to using the CastleGlenn report.

Whereas the CastleGlenn report was NOT a Final Report, and

Whereas the CastleGlenn report as released in May of 2005 was only an uncompleted Phase I of a more comprehensive report that was never completed, and

Whereas there were many questions and concerns about the content of this Phase I report, which have not been answered to this day, therefore –

Could you explain why you would use, quote from, or rely upon, such a report in your present report?

(5) Planning Horizon

I refer to the statements made in Section 1.3 regarding the selection of the year for “future analysis” purposes.

Whereas it is my understanding and practice for years regarding development, that developers are considered responsible for any traffic controls needed within five years AFTER COMPLETION OF BUILDOUT of their proposed development, and

Whereas the completion of the KRSEC is slated for December of 2007, and

Whereas the completion of the KRSEC will miss the beginning of the season for the OHL 2006-2007 season, and

Whereas therefore the completion of the KRSEC is for all intents and purposes into the year 2008, or could potentially be delayed a month or two, therefore, erring on the side of caution -

Could you explain why a planning horizon year of 2013 was not selected?

In fact,

Whereas the Transportation Master Plan is calibrated to the year 2026, and the model is readily available, and

Whereas the year 2026 represents roughly half the life cycle of the KRSEC, and

Whereas it would be unrealistic to build the KRSEC to accommodate a 1000-seat expansion in the future if such expansion could not be sustained by ensuing traffic and parking demands, and

Whereas a third crossing, scheduled for completion prior to 2006, would have a very significant impact on travel patterns in the broad study area, therefore -

Could you comment on why an analysis was not provided for the year 2026, to give the city some indication of what they could be dealing with 20 years from now, and assist in the city’s planning knowledge?

(6) Future Background Travel Forecasts

This may be a bit of a repeat, and please excuse me, but some concerns do overlap other concerns.

The 1.3% percent per year general traffic growth seems reasonable, provided one adds specific known growth impacts to it. You have provided me with the impact of the Block D development, and I thank you for those comments, which I believe should be in the report. I am concerned, however, with the lack of analysis of the impact of other growth development and transportation links, which I believe are within the horizon year, and appear to be certainly within the half-life of the KRSEC. These include –

- Wellington Street extension

- the huge Tannery site development

- Third Crossing

- North Block Development (Donovan)

- Donovan development on NW corner of Bagot and Queen

The Morrison Hershfield report gives some detail on the Tannery site development.

It is my understanding that the last named development is scheduled in the next five years. Could you comment on why these developments were no included in the future network when it is so easy to “add the numbers” to the model and produce a report?

(7) Traffic Volume assessment

It has always been my practice to use or obtain the most up-to-date and detailed traffic volumes for traffic analysis purposes. The KRSEC deserves the best data one can get to assess potential future traffic demands, even knowing the fact that traffic projections are not scientifically reliable and absolutely accurate, but they are the best we can do.

I am, therefore, concerned why a split-count was not obtained for the LasSalle Causeway.

I am also concerned why exact dates and times of various counts were not provided in the report.

I am also concerned why the traffic data used in the Syncho analysis of Queen Street at Ontario Street appears to be from counts taken BEFORE the signalization of this intersection, and why there were no counts done in 2006, especially since the signalization of Queen Street at Ontario Street was executed well prior to the completion of this report, and since the signalization of this intersection would have a significant effect on the travel patterns in this area.

I am also concerned why traffic volumes do not “balance” in the study area, as for instance the volumes along Queen Street westbound between the intersections of King Street and Wellington Street (745 leaving to 445 entering respectively) and Wellington Street to Bagot Street (560 leaving to 790 entering respectively). I get a little worried when imbalances like these are not picked up.

I am also concerned about the apparent decrease in traffic growth for the northbound direction on Ontario Street starting at Brock Street, and the growth does not seem to be picked up at the only viable alternative street, King Street.

I am asking that you comment on these concerns.

(8) Intersection Analysis

It appears that traffic control signalized intersections were analyzed in isolation of each other.

I am concerned that there has been no “system” analysis of intersections as they work in close proximity to each other. For instance, at the intersection of Place D’Armes and Ontario, the existing northbound to eastbound traffic volume is 1075. Using a design cycle length of 90 seconds, giving 40 cycles per hour, that would give an average arrival rate of 27 vehicles times 7.5 metres per vehicle equals 203 metres, which is about twice the distance between blocks in Kingston’s downtown.

I am also concerned about a lack of analysis of the intersection of Wellington Street and Barrack Street. The report says in Section 4.1 that traffic signal control at this intersection is not currently warranted, but that is not what is asked of a traffic impact study. The question is, is it warranted due to or after the completion of the development. I do not think it is appropriate to say that this intersection should wait to be analyzed post-construction.

Is this post-construction condition of this or any intersection in the study area not the express duty and output of a traffic impact study?

(9) Use of Private Parking Facilities

The Parking Utilization Study for the City of Kingston was completed by your office in 2005 and I believe it stated that some 1750 parking spaces would/could disappear in the next few years. I believe that is a very significant statement and it should set off alarm bells for the city.

Why did the present Transportation report not prorate that parking loss to the study area, as a caveat to the city?

And, given that the City of Kingston is a very small “medium-sized” city with a lot of territory that must rely on private transportation to city core events, why did the present Transportation study not caveat the city on the use of private parking in general as a reliable parking supply for a venue that absolutely requires parking for the long term and for financial viability of the KRSEC?

(10) Use of the Hansen and Chown Garages as Parking Facilities

As you may be aware, the above two structures, comprising some 706 parking spaces, and located at the fringe of, or well-beyond, the 400-metre circle from the KRSEC, must use one or two small elevators (+/- 12 people) to access the various garage levels and have a single exit point that must yield to arterial street vehicular and pedestrian traffic.

The post-event traffic volumes passing westbound on Brock Street past the Chown garage have been calculated at 665 vehicles, plus unaccounted pedestrians.

My calculations of vehicle exit times from the Chown Garage after an event at the Grand Theatre, taken in early 2005 at around 10:30 p.m., indicated an exit time of about 15 seconds per vehicle. Even then, pedestrian traffic and vehicular traffic westbound along Brock Street was brisk. One hundred and twenty vehicles exiting took about 35 minutes. This indicates an exit time of just under two hours if the garage had been full.

This is the type of information that has not been presented in the report.

This report is a traffic impact study, and in my mind, it should reflect the impact on vehicles and pedestrians as I have just described, and which are related to the arrival and exit of people to and from events at the KRSEC. The impact on the viability of the KRSEC is particularly important.

Can you explain why the report did not mention details about the difficulties in exiting the Hansen and Chown garages as they are presently constructed, and why it did not include the walking distance to the centroid of these facilities as part of overall “walking distances”?

(11) Walking Times and Rates

In Section 5.5 on page 28, there is a discussion of walking times for youth and seniors.

The report uses 1.2 metres/second as an average walking speed, and 1.0 metres/second for a healthy senior.

Given especially the fact that support in attendance by seniors is absolutely vital to the viability of a major community entertainment centre in the city, and given the demographic of many seniors in the city who support the local arts, entertainment, etc., why would the report quote only the best walking speeds?

And why would the report not take into account the uphill walk that most pedestrians will face when leaving the KRSEC?

Andy why would the report not caveat the city about effect on walking during winter months (when likely the entertainment centre would be the busiest)?

And why, when calculating walking speeds, was there no treatment of the effect of traffic controlled intersections that cover the downtown?

Does the report not consider waiting for green lights, not a factor (exposure time) in walking distance tolerations?

(12) Pedestrian Analysis

The pedestrian analysis as it relates to activity along street corridors appears to be minimal if non-existent in the report.

Section 5.7 says that “pedestrian volumes were estimated at the intersection crossings in immediate proximity to the site”. Where are the charts or tables illustrating these crossings?

I am concerned about the lack of analysis of sidewalk widths to carry pedestrians away from the site.

I am concerned about the idea of forcing pedestrians, who wish to access the OHIP Lot or the Anglin Lot, to walk out of their way to the Wellington Street/Place D’Armes intersection to proceed northbound to these lots. Pedestrians can access directly the OHIP Lot from the King Street at Place D’Armes intersection. And the extension of King Street into the Frontenac Village Garage and complex provides a walkway to the Anglin Bay Lot.

Will these pedestrians walk up to Wellington Street? Never!

Keeping in mind that only Police Officers can legally direct traffic on roadways, can the city pay for the provision of enough officers to prevent pedestrians from “taking over the streets” as they leave the venue? Not very likely.

In my opinion, pedestrian safety should be a concern, and it should be pointed out that with the type of offsite parking proposed, pedestrian safety is compromised.

And traffic signal operation, attendant at nearly every intersection in the downtown, would be completely ignored by pedestrians, especially on cold winter nights.

This might sound like an editorial, but the report has addressed none of these concerns.

May I have your comments?

(13) Parking Opportunities

As I have stated earlier, almost no information has been supplied in the report regarding parking availability.

Whereas I have conducted parking availability studies in the downtown on various occasions, and

Whereas I have found that on-street parking on a Friday night is very limited, amounting to less than 60 parking spaces at around 7:30 p.m. within the report’s the primary study area, and

Whereas 23 OHL home games are played on a Friday night, beginning at 7:30 p.m. each season, and

Whereas parking lots and garages, except for the Hansen and Chown garages are more than 75% full at 7:30 p.m. on a Friday night because stores are open till 9 p.m., therefore –

Why did the report omit the reporting of the parking saturation at this particular time (just as the CastleGlenn report omitted as well)?

And did the report take into account the loss of about 250 parking spaces because the Frontenac parking lots are disappearing?

And did the report take into account the move by City Hall to bring its Midland Offices downtown to the Whig Building, creating more parking needs for staff and citizens doing business?

And further –

Whereas IBI has all the statistics regarding parking availability at every time of the day and night throughout the year in Kingston, and

Whereas IBI is aware that there will be weekday daytime events at the KRSEC (trade shows, etc.), and

Whereas I do not feel that IBI has analyzed one critical event scenario for the KRSEC, such as a Friday night when all stores are open, or a Saturday night when there is a concurrent event at another venue, and

Whereas it should be evident that other events, especially on weekends, will be going on in the downtown, and

Whereas it is not acceptable protocol in a traffic impact study or any other traffic engineering study done by paid consultants to simply state that “one feels there is no problem”, therefore -

Why has the report not analyzed a number of scenarios such as, but not limited to –

- impact of a Friday night OHL game at 7:30 p.m.?

- impact of a concurrent event at the Grand Theatre?

- impact of a trade show or other daytime event during the week during working hours?

- impact of a banquet facility at the 300-seat restaurant concurrent with an evening event OR concurrent with a p.m. peak hour?

- etc.?

Given the existence of the recent IBI downtown parking study, where are the tables showing the parking availability on-street, and in municipal parking lots, especially on a Friday night at 7:30 p.m. when most OHL games are played in the city?

It is recognized that some patrons who presently may be found parked in the downtown will be KRSEC patrons, but it is definitely not a doubling of parking as suggested in the report. What is a reasonable amount of overlap?

And finally, what impact will a sold-out event at the KRSEC have on bars, restaurants, and other venues of entertainment in the downtown? Should other event attendees just stay home or find somewhere else to go, as was suggested at public meetings by the authors of the CastleGlenn report, or should there be a rational attempt to quantify the effects on current venues?

May I have your comments please.

(14) Concurrent Events

This is somewhat of an overlap subject, covered in some topics above, but it is considered important to address.

The events in Kingston’s downtown do not act in isolation.

I believe it is important to note that Kingston’s Grand Theatre patrons avoided the use of the Chown Garage because of the lengthy time required to exit the garage. Although the capacity of the Grand Theatre was 800 seats, seldom more than 120 vehicles used the Chown Parking Garage attached to the Theatre and providing patrons with access to the parking facility without any exposure to the elements.

It is my estimation that even an offer of free parking at this facility, given the problems and restraints noted above, would result in little usage by KRSEC patrons.

Your comments are welcomed.

(15) Transit Operations

I feel that transit operations, as covered in the report, could have been expanded.

It is consoling to note that remarks were made in the report to the effect that “good transit service for the KRSEC is an essential requirement for capacity and other major events”, and that “existing transit in the downtown area would not properly serve an [sic] Kingston Sports and Entertainment Centre capacity event in terms of routing and frequency” (see Executive Summary unpaginated pages, page E or 5).

But what I feel is lacking is a sober discussion of the costs of what a reasonable transit system to and from events would be.

As you may be aware, about half the events at the KRSEC would be OHL hockey games. These games are notorious for ending at unpredictable times. The timing of post-event travel would be problematic.

I would appreciate you comments regarding these areas, as well as any information you can provide regarding the use of shuttle services for venues like the KRSEC in cities comparable to Kingston, and how they are working.

(16) Expansion of the KRSEC to 6000 seats

The report says in Section 5.14 that “provided below is a summary of the traffic and parking implications of a 6,000 person event”. But in Exhibit 5-10, there is only a table showing Trip and Parking Generation for 1,000 persons, not 6,000 persons. This leaves the reader to have to do his own math to calculate the various “numbers”.

Also, the discussion following this table dismisses an analysis of a 6,000 person event based on an assumption (even though admittedly an expert one) rather than simply crunching the numbers, especially for the adjacent and most critical intersections, as in my opinion a traffic impact study should do. The reader is left with no idea or feeling about how close the intersection operations are to being critical.

Further, the 6,000 person event is being commented upon based on the future year used in the report, 2011, and this is very unlikely to be the year that any expansion of the KRSEC would take place. It is more likely that expansion would take place only after 10 to 15 years after the opening of the KRSEC, and therefore, this is another reason why there should be an analysis of intersection operations coinciding with the Transportation Master Plan year of 2026, as I stated earlier.

May I have your comments.

(17) Management Levels

While I have condemned the use of, or reference to, the CastleGlenn report, that report at least expanded upon a list of considerations that the City of Kingston would have to deliberate upon and/or entertain to set up methods to manage such things as assisting motorists to find parking prior to an event.

It is my feeling that an impact study should provide some guidance as to how to resolve problems of finding parking prior to an event, etc. (It is not my objective to identify all the problems associated with the servicing of this site.)

Your comments would be appreciated.

(18) General Concerns

The report says on page 26 that attendees are generally familiar with the road network. It goes on to say that patrons will be “repeat attendees” and that they would have the knowledge of the site location and parking opportunities.

I ask you if patrons can ever become familiar with where those last few empty parking spaces are located, when one considers small 50-100 parking space lots located throughout the downtown. And it must have been pure guesswork to assign pre-event trips in the primary study area, given that motorists will travel from parking lot to parking lot to find those last few empty spaces.

This is not London, Ontario, which has 62 parking lots in the downtown, with a capability of parking over 10,000 cars, with 33 of these lots positioned within 500 metres of the venue. Given the ratio of seats to parking needs, the London Centre needs only 2700 spaces for a sold-out event of 9000 seats. (5000 seats require 1500 parking spots, according to your report, therefore 9000 seats require 2700 parking spots.). In my opinion, we are comparing apples and oranges.

May I have your comments?

The report doesn’t seem to consider all those people who don’t qualify for handicap parking but who need to travel to the site to let off their (elderly) passengers, and then must return to the site after an event to pick their passengers up. Saying to their passengers where they might be parked off-site after an event might work and it might not. I don’t think that is too scientific a solution to the problem.

May I have your comments?

There are six figures of Future volumes that are included in Appendix B. Since the Appendices are 47 meg in size and can’t be sent to a private mailbox, and they don’t exist in hard copy with the city, I believe that all volume tables should have been included in the report just as the other volume information was, as on pages 13 and 21.

I am very concerned about the reports attitude toward the parking supply. Perhaps there are many “potentials” for people finding their way to an event at the KRSEC, but just to say, as in Section 5.14.2, that vehicle occupancies could rise to 3.0 and 3.5, as a solution, or, as stated at the bottom of page 25, that people have the potential to park in private driveways, etc., is not very scientific. Anybody could make these statements. But I think consultants are called upon to apply the best information as has been assembled by field studies of similar situations, give references to their claims, and apply the numbers as factually as possible.

Not to mention the fact that if parking becomes scarce on event nights, private parking lots will be at premium rates, which could discourage attendance, which affects the bottom line of the KRSEC operation. Will the KRSEC become a venue visited by patrons only twice, the first time and the last time?

Respectfully submitted for consideration.

Thank you,

Bruce Todd
August, 2006