ROPA 9 recommendations presented to residents
By Abigail Cukier
The residents of Upper Mount Albion finally have a date set for their road to closed, but they aren’t holding their breath.
“I’ll believe it when I see it. But I am glad to hear this. It’s long overdue,” said resident Toby Meehan at a public information centre last week at Winterberry Heights Salvation Army Church.
Residents of Upper Mount Albion have been waiting for years to see their road closed at Rymal, due to high traffic volumes.
The once quiet, rural road is now a convenient thoroughfare for residents south of Rymal Road and in Binbrook and for shopping at the Heritage Greene plaza and Walmart. In 2011, peak 24-hour traffic volume was 4,700. It will reduce to 100 after closure.
The road has no shoulders or sidewalks, ancient pavement and a steep hill. Residents say it is impossible to walk on the road safely, although many shoppers do try. They say motorists speed and drive unsafely.
Five years ago, Meehan’s husband was turning left into their driveway. His car was hit by a motorist behind him trying to pass him on the left. He shattered his pelvis and was in bed for more than four months.
The road was slated for closure according to the ROPA 9 transportation master plan, which was completed in 2006. ROPA 9 encompasses Mud Street to South of Rymal, Pritchard Road to Upper Centennial Parkway.
The plan called for Upper Mount Albion and Second Road West to close 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 protection of the Eramosa Karst and the creation of the conservation area there, the collector road could not be built. This prompted the need for further study and the delay of the closure.
Mohan Philip, project manager from the city’s transportation division, said Upper Mount Albion is expected to be closed in spring 2013.
“We will present the study to council and it will go to other departments,” he said. “That is the date, but when it actually happens depends on the viability and priority of other projects in Hamilton.”
Trinity Church Road extension
Another key piece of the puzzle is the completion of the Trinity Church Road extension, which will be a link between Rymal and Stone Church roads and an access to the parkway. It will take pressure off other roads in the area.
This was supposed to be built by 2011 but was delayed due to ongoing discussions between the city and Hamilton Conservation Authority.
The HCA wants the city to create an “eco passage” between the Eramosa Karst and Mount Albion conservation areas to allow for safe travel for wildlife and to avoid a repeat of conflicts with deer, like what has occurred near Iroquoia Heights, which is by the junction of Highway 403 and the Lincoln Alexander Parkway.
Forty-two highway hits were recorded there and 18 dead deer were removed from neighbouring streets between 2003 and 2009.
The passage would run underneath the planned Trinity Church Road extension, through the future Trinity West neighbourhood and connect with the Red Hill Valley.
The extension of Trinity Church is expected to take pressure off other north-south roads in the area.
The extension is now expected to be built in 2014. Until then, the city recommends installing a temporary traffic signal at Pritchard and Rymal roads to encourage motorists to use Pritchard instead of Upper Mount Albion.
Second Road West
Residents on Second Road West did not hear what they had hoped at the public information centre.
The city is recommending that road remain open due to the fact it would cause too much traffic to be diverted to other roads.
Homeowners there have fought for years for closure due to high speeds, motorists running stop signs and increased traffic volumes. Their road was also due to close due to the original study.
Instead, the city says temporary speed cushions would help prevent too much of an increase in traffic volume.
“Having been involved with this process for so long and seeing what the conditions on this street are, I did not expect this at all,” said resident Lee Austin. “I feel like they did not do their due diligence. They have numbers that show almost 4,000 vehicles a day on a residential street that is designed to handle from 900 to 1,500.
“I feel they are overlooking the safety of a residential neighborhood for the convenience of the majority.”
Austin also questions the reasoning behind the recommendation.
While the original collector road could not be built due to the karst, it also prevented more homes from being constructed there. Without these extra homes, Austin said there will not be the increase in local traffic that would spill onto other streets if Second Road West is closed.
“Also, how does it make sense to determine that a residential street cannot be closed because there is not an adjacent collector road and then use that very residential street as the collector road they are unable to build, which is what they are ultimately recommending be done.”
Highland Road West
While the construction of the Trinity Church Road extension will ease the pressure from area roads, Highland Road West will only see an increase in volumes.
Right now, 6,800 vehicles travel the road in 24 hours. With the closure of Upper Mount Albion and construction of the Trinity Church Road extension, volume is expected to reach 10,500.
Residents there are already concerned about speeding on the street, which is on the route to five public schools, two daycare centres, a high school and a community centre.
“This issue does not only affect the residents on Highland but all those in the area who have children who walk to school, utilize Valley Park. This is a subdivion and needs to be treated as one. It is not an expressway where people can freely drive 70 kilometres-plus,” said Taura Caroscio, a resident.
Cindy Juriga said she can barely cross the street at 8 a.m. with her six-year-old daughter on the way to Janet Lee elementary school.
Juriga and Caroscio are recommending to the city that a flashing crosswalk be installed on the street, as well as a speed indicator sign between Glenhollow and Winterberry drives.
“Maybe that would help people realize how fast they are going,” Caroscio said.
Philip from the transportation division said that once Rymal Road is widened to five lanes between Trinity Church and Upper Mount Albion and later east of Upper Mount Albion, the city doesn’t “see an issue” with Highland Road West.
“There could be an increase there now but we have to accept that. The consultant looked at the road and did not see a need for a traffic signal or crosswalk or other measures,” he said, adding the situation could be reviewed later.
For now, the city is recommending a cycling lane be set up on Highland Road West and parking be removed on one side.
“So based on the feedback from the residents, they are choosing to do nothing else but add more volume to an area that already has significant dangers for the residents and children,” Caroscio said.
“After the ROPA 9 meeting, I was so upset with the narrow view of issues and not understanding the area at all. Not only should the residents of Highland be upset but residents on Gatestone and Highbury are going to watch their streets be over-run by vehicles.”