Traffic was the chief concern of those who attended an open house on the St. Anne Street realignment on May 27.
The session was an informational one on both the immediate plans for St. Anne Street’s changes, which will extend the street and connect it to TachĂ© Street by going behind the legion and Grandin Medical buildings.
But the questions and comments from the crowd were focused on two main themes: parking and traffic.
From irritation about the perceived congestion on Perron Street since it become one lane in each direction, to worries about four lanes of traffic on St. Anne Street going through a one-lane roundabout to Grandin residents’ ease of access to north St. Albert being cut off, the commentary was notably vexed with the downtown area’s traffic problems.
“If you live in Grandin, you might as well just give up your car,” said one frustrated commenter.
Residents also wondered about parking downtown – venting about the angle parking trial – and were assured by city staff that there is work being done on a long-term downtown parking strategy.
Others were concerned about the additional population that’s expected to arrive downtown once the Amacon tower development is under way.
New chief community development officer Gilles Prefontaine told the audience that the design incorporates traffic models, which include the projected future population of downtown.
The people who stayed after the presentation continued to be concerned about traffic flow.
Peter Murphy said traffic solutions that have been implemented in the city have been “grossly inadequate” and said his major concern was parking.
Others thought the plans did seem attractive, but were also concerned about parking and traffic flow.
“I think it’s going to be beautiful,” said one woman who lives downtown, but proceeded to outline her worries about traffic safety.
Despite the general concerns about downtown traffic and parking, the presentation portion of the evening focused on the plans for St. Anne Street and its new section, which will be called St. Anne Promenade.
The first phase of construction, which will extend and connect St. Anne to TachĂ© Street, will start in early June. The second phase will be done in 2016.
Staff and contractors spent some time reassuring the crowd that their accesses and services should be minimally impacted by construction.
“We will not block your access at any time,” said Sue Howard, the capital projects manager for the City of St. Albert. “Your services for the city shouldn’t change.”
She also encouraged anyone with noise, dust or other complaints to call the city.
The majority of the work this summer will focus on the new leg of St. Anne, located behind the Grandin Medical building and the legion.
Next year, the work on the rest of St. Anne will get seriously underway, with what they called a “modern roundabout” being installed.
Andy Heath, the project manager from the engineering firm McElhanney, showed the audience the designs for the single-lane roundabout.
“This is a modern roundabout that’s specifically designed for the site,” Heath said.
He said extra parking will be added along the new St. Anne Promenade.
A vision of artistic benches, wide sidewalks, environmentally-friendly innovations and artistic light posts was presented for the promenade and street.
Stefan Johansson, a principal landscape architect with EIDOS, presented those concepts and others while outlining how the street could look.
He said St. Anne could be a “civic spine” for St. Albert, a place that encourages walking, gathering for events and inspires civic pride.
Johansson said the streetscape could include everything from unique tree grates to artistic light poles that could be programmable as to the type of light they cast at night.
“Even the street furniture, the furniture should also look artistic,” he said.