The infamous Confusion Corner -- an intersection that makes you cut through a parking lot or down back lanes to get to where you want to go. The thriving and walkable Osborne Village comes to an abrupt end at this tangle of traffic, and the integration of the Rapid Transit station into the fabric of the community is all but impossible as long as it remains in it's current configuration.
In February the blogger at The Cold Cold Ground devised a new plan for Osborne's confusion corner; essentially a big round-about. Now you know I love my roundabouts, however there will still be a great deal of traffic flowing around this bout, and therefore it still presents a problem.
In the comments of ekim's post, I wrote
Excellent! I applaud your initiative in taking a crack at improving that area. It would be great if a number of people sketched out their designs, and had a brain-storming to work through the best aspects. And.. made city hall listen some how.Well I thought I should put my crayons where my mouth is (yum) and take a crack at redesigning the intersection and unleashing the ultrawalkable-transit-oriented-urbanity of the Village.
Here's the nut of the problem: you have a great deal of traffic passing through the area, cutting off Osborne Village from anything south including the Rapid Transit station. Much, if not most of that traffic is going straight across from Donald to Pembina, or Pembina to Donald. Anyone wanting to get to or from the rapid transit station has to cross this traffic.
My solution is relatively simple: get rid of the traffic.
The "how" may seem far fetched to you, but keep in mind that cities do this all the time. Calgary is doing it as we speak. That is: build a tunnel. Get that Donald to Pembina traffic underground so that it can bypass the intersection without causing traffic jams, and creating an inhospitable environment for pedestrians. The details of getting it underground need to be worked out, but I envision an end result like this:
I need to rework the tunnel entry points, but the gist is that the outside lanes break off to feed Osborne St. and Corydon Ave, while everything else boots happily along underground. What used to be eastbound Donald St. would become a 2-way street and rebranded Corydon Ave up until the point that the traffic from Pembina rejoins it.
All you are left with at the former crazy corner is an ordinary four-way intersection: the corner of Corydon and Osborne. How iconic would that be? What used to be a big web of crisscrossing traffic could become the most in-demand restaurant and patio spot in the city. Two of the best urban neighbourhoods in Winnipeg would be linked through this intersection. The only traffic passing through would be traffic that wants to go down Corydon or Osborne. The impatient suburbanites racing home to Waverly West from downtown are nowhere to be seen.
Aside from the part about tunneling underground, this wouldn't be that hard to do. All of the roads are essentially in the same place. Donald is re-purposed as Corydon, and McMillan Ave is basically the same, only less fucked up. No buildings would have to be torn down except perhaps to allow for the off ramps where Pembina and Donald are fed underground. Meanwhile the wasteland south of McMillan would be much more accessible, opening up the possibility of true transit-oriented development around the RT depot.
Yes, this would cost money, but just this past month City Hall decided to go off-schedule and spend $300 million on new roads in parts of the city where people don't even live. If the brains at the City of Winnipeg were inclined to build a tunnel, they could build a tunnel. They just might have to delay the next phase of freeways in canola fields.
... the corner of Corydon and Osborne...imagine it!
And to finish off this blog post, here is a photo that I took in New York of what I think is the Holland Tunnel: