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Politicians approve complex Upper Stoney Creek transportation plan

 By Kevin Werner, News Staff

 Upper Mount Albion Road will finally be turned into a cul-de-sac at Rymal Road sometime this summer.

The decision by members of the April 22 public works committee is part of a sweeping series of recommendations proposed by the ROPA 9 transportation master plan, which has been underway since 2006.

“This has been a long process coming,” said Stoney Creek councillor Brad Clark.

“The changes will make (the area) safer.”

The other traffic changes the committee approved include installing a temporary traffic signal at the intersection of Pritchard Road and Rymal Road; building a paved shoulder along the west side of Pritchard Road between the trail and Stone Church Road; upgrading Pritchard Road from Stone Church to Rymal; installing speed cushions on Second Road West, north of Rymal Road; constructing sidewalks along Second Road West; installing bike lanes on Highland Road between Winterberry and Upper Centennial Parkway, and building sidewalks along the south side of Highland Road. The total cost is $743,000. The money will come from development charges.

“This will do so many things,” said Mountain councillor Tom Jackson. “It will alleviate traffic, open up more land, and open up more opportunities, while protecting the Eramosa Karst.”

Politicians are scheduled to vote on the committee’s recommendations at their April 24 council meeting.

Gerry Moore, director of engineer services, said the idea is to complete the projects, including closing Upper Mount Albion Road, sometime during the summer, before the new Bishop Ryan High School, on Rymal Road, is opened September 2013.

Homeowners living along Upper Mount Albion have been patiently waiting for years to see their road closed at Rymal due to the increasing traffic.

The road over the years has been transformed from a meandering, rural roadway, into what residents describe as a speedway, as vehicles race to the growing Binbrook community. The road has no shoulders or sidewalks, crumbling pavement, and a steep hill. Residents say it is unsafe to walk along the road, even though the new Bishop Ryan High School is only about 10 minutes away.

“It’s a good decision to close it,” said Margaret Reid, a 20-year resident who lives on Upper Mount Albion.

She said it’s not paved properly, it’s narrow, encouraging speeding, and during rush hour, the road is blocked with traffic.

“Children can’t walk to school, it’s too dangerous,” she said.

The road had been scheduled to be closed by the ROPA 9 transportation master plan, which was completed in 2006. ROPA 9 reviewed the traffic issues onMud Street, southof Rymal, Pritchard Road to Upper Centennial Parkway. The plan called for Upper Mount Albion and Second Road West to be closed after building the Trinity Church Road arterial corridor, and constructing a winding collector road that was to head south and east from Highland Road West and connect with Gatestone Drive at Second Road West. After the city and province decided to protect the Eramosa Karst, the collector road was eliminated. This prompted the need for further study.

Closing Upper Mount Albion Road is only one part of an extensive transportation plan for the area, which also includes the eventual construction of the TrinityChurch extension and widening Rymal Road East to five lanes to Upper Centennial Parkway.

The Rymal Road East reconstruction’s design planning is scheduled to begin next year, said Moore.

But the Trinity Church Road extension has been delayed due to the Hamilton Conservation Authority’s insistence that the city build a 75-meter eco-passage under the roadway to allow safe travel for wildlife, particularly deer, between the Karst and the Mount Albion conservation areas.

Clark says deer haven’t been seen in the area of the Eramosa Karst.  If the city agrees to the 75-meter setback, it will mean relocating a wetland.

Clark’s worse fear is for the Trinity Church Road extension to be delayed for any length of time.

“It will put Upper Stoney Creek into traffic chaos,” he said.

Mooresaid 2013 is a “write-off” for the extension project. If everything is completed, the roadway could be completed by the fall of 2014.

The Trinity Church Road extension is expected to be a vital link between Rymal and Stone Church roads, and an access to the parkway to take traffic pressure off the other roads.

Clark said developers, potential business owners, and residents in the area are eager to see the road completed.

Still, the proposed traffic plan does have its own critics. Residents along Second Road West have been disappointed at the city’s reversal not to close their road. The plan now recommends the road remain open because it would cause too much traffic to be diverted to other roads. The temporary speed cushions, approved by councillors, at a cost $10,400 is suppose to improve the safety of residents within the area.

“There are residents who object to something (in the plan),” said Clark.

He said a sidewalk along Second Road West has been on the city’s capital list for years.

Taura Caroscio, a resident on Highland Road, expressed disappointment that not enough was being done to reduce the excessive speed along the roadway. It is projected that the volume along the road will increase from 6,800 vehicles travelling within a 24 hour period, to about 10,500. Highland Road is also the route to five public schools, two daycare centers, a high school and a community centre.

With the addition of the bike lanes, and the closing of Upper Mount Albion, Caroscio says there will be even more vehicles travelling alongHighland. Parking along one side of the road will be removed.

City officials say once TrinityChurch is widened to five lanes, it will take the pressure off Highland Road.

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