By Kevin Werner, News Staff
Hamilton traffic staff and politicians are hoping to smooth over the congestion bumps that appeared last week after the closure of Upper Mount Albion at Rymal Road East.
“We are trying to ease the pain up there,” said Geoff Lupton, director of energy, fleet and traffic. “I have had staff up there every day monitoring the situation.”
There was traffic chaos across the east Mountain and Upper Stoney Creek last week when Upper Mount Albion was closed, producing long lines along Rymal and Pritchard.
“It’s been a real challenge,” said Glanbrook councillor Brenda Johnson, who said she was swamped with emails and calls from constituents about the problems.
Johnson, along with area councillors Tom Jackson and Brad Clark banded together to urge city officials to implement some immediate improvements to promote better traffic flow within the area.
“Brenda’s area did take the brunt of (the traffic problems),” said Jackson.
Fixes were quickly made among the affected intersections. For instance, the lights along Rymal Road from Nebo to Fletcher have been synchronized to help prevent stops and starts. In addition, the city will be laying down asphalt on Rymal to allow westbound traffic to turn right at the Pritchard intersection. An advanced green light will also be incorporated at the Dakota and Fletcher intersection.
Lupton said new traffic signs have been installed to better inform drivers about the changes.
Jackson, who has been co-ordinating these improvements with city staff, acknowledged the new lights at Pritchard were not working properly because of a sensor malfunction.
“The sensors had to be adjusted,” he said.
The councillors are also pushing city staff to accelerate the implementation of the Transportation Master Plan Study recommendations that were created from the 2006 Regional Official Plan Amendment 9. The plan recommended the closure of Upper Mount Albion and Rymal Road, as well as the widening to five lanes of Rymal Road from Dartnall to Trinity Church Road, and the extension of Dartnall Road to Twenty Road. Upper Mount Albion is now closed, even though those projects were supposed to begin in 2014.
The Trinity Church arterial corridor, a cornerstone of the master plan, has been delayed for at least two years, contributing to the traffic uncertainty in the area.
“I understand there has been short-term frustration,” said Johnson. “All these intersections will need some tweaking. People will need to have some patience.”
If there are any funding problems for the projects, Jackson said he is confident his colleagues will approve the costs.
The transportation master plan examined the project traffic patterns in the area, including along Mud Street West, Upper Centennial, Rymal Road East and Pritchard Road, to allow for existing and proposed development. But the residential developments, especially along Rymal at Summit Park, have been extraordinary with the services not keeping up to the increasing number of residents moving into the area.
Lupton said a week after the traffic nightmare, it seems to have “improved.” The paved right-hand turn lanes are expected to be in place over the next few weeks to alleviate the “log jam” that was created along Pritchard and Rymal.
Jackson said he is asking drivers and residents in the area to be patient as city officials smooth out the problems.
“This is about short-term pain for long-term gain,” he said.