Traffic situation getting worse
By: Jonathan Hiron
| Posted: Wednesday, Dec 18, 2013 06:00 am
I would like to start by commending the City of St Albert for initiating the traffic and parking study performed by Bunt and Associates. This is definitely a reasonable start in assessing the traffic concerns within the Erin Ridge subdivision that should have been initiated long before consideration of closing down Coal Mine Road or the consideration of new developments such as the École Alexandre-Taché school and those new developments north of Coal Mine Road.
Many of the residents of Erin Ridge in attendance have lived in the subdivision longer than my wife and I. We moved in the summer of ’99 and the increase in traffic volumes, especially the last few years has been dramatic and alarming. When we first moved to St. Albert and Erin Ridge we could get out of St. Albert to Edmonton in about eight minutes during rush hour and that has increased to closer to 15 minutes now. Sure some of that can be attributed to the poor timing of lights on the trail that has always plagued St. Albert but a lot of the increase is simply to get out of our subdivision and onto St. Albert Trail.
The traffic increase in the Erin Ridge subdivision since the opening of Costco has increased far more than I would have expected and has only worsened the traffic problems. I personally believe that it would be prudent and imperative for the city to sanction Bunt and Associates to perform another seven-day 24-hour traffic analysis and compare that with the original which would provide empirical evidence of traffic growth. I am sure it will far exceed the one per cent annual estimate identified within the report. All of these additional developments and the impact to traffic volumes in the Erin Ridge subdivision were not taken into consideration in the traffic study which the city was neglectful by not ensuring be included. Performing another study since Costco has opened should provide more empirical evidence of the types of increases in traffic volumes that may occur in future and what lies ahead of the Erin Ridge subdivision as more development is completed north of Eldorado Park.
With the increased traffic my wife and I have personally seen, especially in the last few years and now with the opening of Costco, I believe the city has to seriously look at road closures as likely the only real means of being able to reduce traffic volumes to ensure the safety of drivers and pedestrians. The report fails to provide any serious remediation strategies to adequately address the speeding as well as the pure volume of traffic that is already congesting the Erin Ridge subdivision.
The issues surrounding increased development in the Erin Ridge subdivision and north are mostly concerning safety. To suggest that an increase in traffic due to the school will have no impact is simply irresponsible. I was the first person to challenge the 90 per cent busing statistic presented within the report but many more that attended had further comments and concerns. One of the residents of St. Albert took it upon himself to contact the other schools within St. Albert and there were none remotely close to 90 per cent of students being bused.
The report only addresses estimates and increases, although incomplete, of vehicle traffic volumes. Pedestrian traffic volumes were not studied or extrapolated for increases with the new school. It is strongly recommended that the report incorporate current pedestrian traffic, especially for the hospital and seniors’ centre, and provide reasonable estimates of the increase the students from the school will have. The study should include statistics and estimates from other junior/senior high schools in St. Albert and Edmonton and not rely solely on a subjective opinion from the present school or school board.
Personally I believe if the road was shut down and totally blocked prior to Everitt Drive along with serious deterrents to block those attempting to take a short cut using Eldorado Drive that there would be fewer safety issues or concerns with the École Alexandre-Taché school being developed at Eldorado Park.
Let’s do the right thing and make safety our number one priority in the Erin Ridge subdivision and ensure that the study is not considered final until such time it fully addresses all traffic, both vehicular and pedestrian, now and in future that utilizes Erin Ridge Drive and that there be more focus on safety.
Jonathan Hiron is a St. Albert resident.