City of Edmonton happy with Metro LRT rollout, but drivers aren't

If you build it, they will … eventually go away. That seems to be the philosophy the city is counting on, at least in part, to alleviate traffic congestion on roads near the new Metro LRT line.

Wait times at intersections near new Metro line range from five to ten minutes, report says

Traffic was backed up Thursday afternoon as drivers waited at red lights. (CBC)

If you build it, they will … eventually go away.

That seems to be the philosophy the city is counting on, at least in part, to alleviate traffic congestion on roads near the new Metro LRT line.

The line  connects downtown with the NAIT campus. It opened a month ago, and drivers and pedestrians have been complaining ever since.

On Thursday, the city's director of traffic engineering spoke to media about a report that will go to city council next week.

Craig Walbaum said the city is happy, for the most part, with how things have worked out so far.

"We are quite pleased with how well the Metro Line opening has gone," he said. "We did a lot of modelling and analysis to look at the maximum delays there could be, and we actually are very pleased with what we've seen."

Some drivers, and even people who use the LRT line, seems to have different views.

"It think this is a joke," said Dennis Danilak, who was stuck in traffic Thursday while on his way to pick up his mother-in-law.

"I don't know why they even have this thing running," he said. "They shouldn't run it until they get it fixed properly. I try to avoid this whole area if I can."

The city has monitored traffic since the line opened in early September. Staff members drove their cars along the roads during rush hour, and watched video from cameras set up at various locations.

They looked at six key intersections:

  • Princess Elizabeth Avenue and 106th Street
  • Princess Elizabeth Avenue and 109th Street;
  • 111th Avenue and 106th Street;
  • Kingsway Avenue and 104th Street;
  • Kingsway Avenue and 105th Street, and;
  • 107th Avenue and 105th Street.

What they found was,typical traffic delays of five minutes during peak times, with drivers waiting in some cases up to ten minutes to get through intersections.

The longest delays are at 111th Avenue and Princess Elizabeth Avenue, where drivers sometimes wait for traffic lights to change from red to green three times before they make it through the intersection.

The city also found that pedestrians are waiting longer to cross streets in the area. Buses have also been delayed by up to eight minutes, especially those leaving the Kingsway Transit Centre. The Metro Line delays, coupled with construction on Connors Road or 97th Street have seen some buses running up to 30 minutes behind schedule. To alleviate the problem, the city has added six more buses to routes in the area.

Because the line was running at the street level the city knew even at the planning stage that there would be traffic problems Walbaum said.

Given what the city expected, the delays seem "reasonable," he said.

And things should improve, he said, as more drivers learn to switch routes and avoid the area

"The other dimension that we really needed to look at, and we've seen in the south line as well, is traffic makes those decisions, and people make those decisions themselves," he said. "Depending on where they're coming from and going to. And they've settled into the system and those that need to be here, will. Others will go away and make other choices."


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