Redesign on horizon for King St.

Photo by Jessica Dik

Photo by Jessica Dik

A plan to revitalize King Street is in the works, which will be set in motion over the next couple of years.

The project, which focuses on the strip of King from Erb Street West to University Avenue West, is a joint effort between Wilfrid Laurier University, the Region of Waterloo and the City of Waterloo.

Gary Nower, assistant vice-president of physical resources at Laurier, explained the project expanded out of a lighting project that the region and city had planned for uptown Waterloo. This eventually changed into a project to redevelop the section of King from Erb to Central Street.

The plan in this location is to reduce King from four lanes to two, with turning lanes at major intersections. A bike lane will then be inserted on each side and the sidewalk will be widened. There will also be a planting strip for trees and other landscaping.

The decision was then made to extend this redevelopment from Central to University, to help make the portion of King closest to Laurier safer and more attractive.

“We said the same thing — it’s a university precinct with tons and tons of students using this area,” said Nower. “So you should introduce traffic calming and bike lanes and proper pedestrian crossways.”

Nower continued that at the section of street in front of King Street Residence there will be a pedestrian refuge at the median.

“Whether or not this is a pedestrian-controlled crossing I don’t know yet, but you’ll be able to cross, stand here and then run across to the other side.”

There is the potential for similar refuges to be placed along King on the way to uptown.

A pedestrian plaza is set to go in at the corner of King and University, in front of the Athletic Complex. This is a public space for use by community members. Nower described it as a place that may contain trees, benches or even artwork that would provide people with a welcoming place to sit and have coffee.

There will also be a change to the four-way crossing at this corner.

“What we said here, is have a scramble at King and University,” Nower said. “So all the lights go red and everybody just crosses where they want.”

Although these changes are meant to make this strip of King safer for students, they are also aimed at bringing a campus feel to the area surrounding Laurier.

“We’ve always wanted to create this sense of place at Laurier so when you drive up University or along King you know that you’ve arrived at a university instead of a pile of whatever this is out here.”

To help with this image, the university will have its own street lighting, street furniture and landscaping along the street.

“It will be safer for crossing because we’re growing that way, and there will be less traffic,” said Nower. “So it will be pretty cool I think.”

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