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Let's plan before we develop

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  |  Posted: Saturday, Feb 01, 2014 06:00 am

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Re: Get Ready for a frantic 2014 (Gazette, Jan. 15).

I read with some interest, and growing trepidation, the editorial expounding all the upcoming development in North Erin Ridge around the new Costco. Don't get me wrong, I love Costco and I'm excited about having more shopping options right here in St. Albert, but talk of another South Edmonton Common sets off some alarm bells. Surely everyone remembers the traffic nightmare that existed there for many years, until the interchanges and overpasses (at great expense!) were finally built? Is that what we have to look forward to?

I want to remind people that two new schools are proposed for Erin Ridge: the francophone regional junior/senior high on Erin Ridge Drive, right by the traffic mess created by the Sturgeon Hospital and Citadel and access onto St. Albert Trail/Villeneuve Road; and the public elementary school on Everitt Drive in North Erin Ridge, right by this new "North St. Albert Common". There are already huge increases in traffic on both these roads by people seeking shortcuts that bypass St. Albert Trail. Anyone who thinks that creating a larger destination and throwing some more lights onto the trail won't result in even more shortcutting is dreaming.

We have already seen the tragic outcome of increasing traffic by schools, and that was on the four-lane divided Sir Winston Churchill. Residents and parents there had apparently been expressing their concerns for years. Erin Ridge Drive and Everitt Drive are two-lane residential roads, with houses and driveways on them. Residents have been complaining about the increasing traffic volume. A recent traffic study estimated a one per cent increase, since that's the average for the city. However, anyone looking at the city's own numbers for Erin Ridge from the past five to 10 years can see the actual average increase is about eight per cent per year! Now add in that huge development, and watch that percentage hit double digits.

What is the city going to do to keep the residents and all those new students safe? Because right now they are insisting that painting a centre line down the roads and throwing up hospital zone/school zone signs is sufficient.

There has to be some serious planning by the city in addressing these concerns; maybe close off some roads to prevent short-cutting and force people onto the trail and not through what should be just residential streets. Tough decisions, but that's supposedly what they were elected/hired to do. The time is now; before the schools are built, before all the commercial development takes place, and before there is another tragic headline.

Katherine Van Hoof, St. Albert


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