Winnipeg traffic confusion sorted with roundabout

Traffic management software

Like any other North American city, Winnipeg, Manitoba, has traffic jams. Winnipeg does not have an overwhelming traffic problem, but it does have its bottlenecks from time to time. As the local joke goes, there are times on Portage Avenue when commuters are tempted to carry their cars to work. Winnipeg even boasts a “Confusion Corner” where three major streets meet and then go in different directions. With a recent preliminary design request for proposal (RFP), the city of Winnipeg was considering a change in the driving landscape.

Along with the city, MMM Group and a class of students in the Civil Engineering Department at the University of Manitoba thought it might be ready for a change as well. The city of Winnipeg issued an RFP for a heavily traveled intersection, McPhillips Street and Inkster Boulevard in the northwest part of the city. MMM Group offered to work with the students with the intention of seeing what kind of new ideas the students could bring to the table. The project was to do a realistic design exercise going through all the steps that a real engineering firm would follow in developing a functional planning study. The MMM Group uses TORUS, the roundabout design software from Transoft Solutions, and thought it might help the students in their designs.

One student team consisting of Lei Yang, Kent Midford, Lucas Wazney and Morgan Glasgow won two awards based on their roundabout designs, including the University of Manitoba ITE (Institute of Transportation Engineers) Student Chapter award for team professionalism and development, as well as the Gary Shewchuk Award for Outstanding Design Achievement.

“The most difficult aspect of the location was the traffic flows during the a.m. and p.m. peaks,” said Glasgow. “At McPhillips and Inkster, a tremendous amount of traffic is through traffic along McPhillips, which is not ideal for a roundabout. During our kickoff meeting, the city of Winnipeg stated to have no more than two lanes in the roundabout, as two lanes would already present a big enough challenge for the public.”

The team’s final design consisted of a two-lane roundabout with an inscribed diameter of 67 meters. The two lanes were a combined 9 meters wide, and there was a 3-meter-wide truck apron around the center.

 “I thought TORUS was very easy to use for anyone with CAD experience,” said Glasgow. “The ability to analyze the swept paths of trucks and buses proved very useful, as our design vehicle was a WB-20 truck. We also checked the compatibility of the buses in Winnipeg Transit's fleet. Using TORUS made making changes to our design very easy. The notifications let us know when radii were too small for our design vehicle and allowed us to correct problems before they snowballed into larger issues,” he continued.

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