When Darcy Peters drives down Villeneuve Road in the morning, he worries about the youth walking on the side of the road. Peters goes to work at the commercial centre bordering St. Albert Trail. But there’s no sidewalk and he says, “It’s really dangerous for them to be walking there.”
He is happy the city now proposes to close Villeneuve Road to truck traffic, and turn it into a two-lane collector road with a pedestrian trail. The city’s plans for the road’s realignment were presented to residents at an open house on Tuesday.
The proposed alignment would keep the road open from St. Albert Trail to Hogan Road but close it to Ray Gibbon Drive. Fowler Way, a new road in the future Jensen Lakes neighbourhood north of Deer Ridge, would become the major arterial road.
It would connect to Ray Gibbon Drive in the west, and to St. Albert Trail near the Costco. It would also have several access points from Villeneuve Road.
Peters likes the proposal because residents in the neighbourhood would keep the quick access to the hospital and commercial area on St. Albert Trail. But they would also suffer less from heavy truck noise.
“Villeneuve Road still being open, that’s fantastic,” said Peters. “And no trucks allowed. I think the people with houses backing on to Villeneuve Road will be happy.”
Other residents also favoured the city’s proposal, which combines ideas first presented at an open house in February.
One woman said she liked that the city wants to use speed bumps, roundabouts and other traffic calming measures to keep drivers from taking short cuts through the neighbourhoods once Fowler becomes the main roadway.
“If they can put speed bumps down the road, I will be happy,” one woman said.
But Brenda MacDonald is not convinced speed bumps will stop people from taking short cuts through the neighbourhoods. She also worries how a proposed connection of Dennison Drive in Deer Ridge to Fowler Way would affect Muriel Martin Elementary School.
“They have Dennison going right into a school zone,” she said. “It’s already congested as it is.”
Preparing for the future
The proposed realignment plans took many of the residents’ concerns into consideration, said Dean Schick, manager of transportation.
The new realignment will divert traffic onto several main roads, causing fewer blockages. But if Villeneuve remained open, the road’s intersection to St. Albert Trail would overload with traffic once Jensen Lakes fully develops, he said.
The city also talked to Melcor, the developer for Jensen Lakes, and they are prepared to structure their new neighbourhood around a major arterial roadway, he said.
“Fowler Way ultimately will be a roadway designed to handle these criteria,” he said. “If you have a realignment and you have the roadway set, then developers can acknowledge that and work around a proposed development that’s suitable for that area.”
Melcor could not be reached for comment. The St. Albert and District of Chamber also did not return calls for an interview.
In a previous interview, CEO and president Lynda Moffat said the chamber is concerned that potential changes to Villeneuve Road will compromise access to the city for medevac services and tamper with St. Albert’s economic growth.
Villeneuve Airport has become an alternative medevac landing site thanks to the quick access that Villeneuve Road provides to the Sturgeon Community Hospital. That has allowed the airport to get a runway extension and an upgraded landing system, which makes St. Albert an attractive destination for new businesses, she said.
With the potential realignment to Fowler Way, it may take longer for emergency vehicles to get to the hospital, she said. She fears that airport authorities may take away the designation entirely then.
Kent Eklund with Associated Engineering, a company working with the city on the realignment, said they’ve contacted authorities at the Edmonton International Airport for comment about these concerns. They have not heard back from them yet. But “we don’t foresee any issues,” he said.
MORE INFORMATION – Residents unable to attend the open house can fill out an online comment sheet. The deadline for input is June 12. Information from the open house is also available on the city website. Any feedback received will be integrated into the Transportation Master Plan. An open house for the TMP is planned for June 16, 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Royal Canadian Legion at 6 Taché Street.