Turning lane returns to Jasper Avenue after driver complaints

A key turning lane onto 109th Street from Jasper Avenue has returned after drivers complained of long wait times at the intersection.

Lane removal in mid-July was part of pedestrian-focused Experience Jasper Avenue pilot project

The right turning lane from Jasper Avenue onto 109th Street was restored Wednesday, Aug. 30 after drivers complained to the city. (CBC)

A key turning lane onto 109th Street from Jasper Avenue has returned.

The right turn lane from Jasper Avenue eastbound onto 109th Street southbound was resurrected Wednesday afternoon after drivers complained of long wait times at the intersection.

City officials say drivers were forced to wait for up to 45 seconds to turn right onto 109th Street.

That's almost three times the wait time commuters had before the lane was removed.

Experience Jasper Avenue pilot

The lane was removed in mid-July for the Experience Jasper Avenue pilot project aimed at bringing more people out to walk on the busy east-west avenue.

In an effort to get more pedestrians out on the sidewalks, the turning lane at the intersection was replaced by trees, shrubs and a small stage. The decorative lane still exists, but has been shortened so about four to five cars can wait to turn right at the lights. 

Coun. Scott McKeen said he received numerous complaints from drivers after the turning lane was taken away. Although the turning lane is back, he says Jasper Avenue can still be built for both pedestrians and drivers.  

"I truly believe we can have a great urban design of a great urban street and still find ways to encourage traffic flow during rush hour and the rest of the day," McKeen said.

City to monitor

But not everyone is content with the lane change.

Pedestrian Yumimi Pang uses the intersection regularly. She said Wednesday's lane restoration doesn't help those travelling on foot.

Instead, she argued, it makes it unsafe for people to cross the street.

"As a pedestrian, it makes me worry a little bit. Cars turn pretty fast and they don't really yield to us, so it's a little harrowing to cross," Pang said.

City officials say they are planning to continue to monitor the intersection to look out for any close calls between pedestrians and cars.

Mayor Don Iveson said the whole point of the pilot project is to determine what works and what doesn't. He says in many ways this is a case of something that didn't work.   

"Overall, our goal remains to improve [the] pedestrian experience along Jasper Avenue for today's residents and businesses to attract to that growing neighbourhood," he said Wednesday afternoon.

The pilot project runs until the end of October. Council will then decide during budget debates whether permanent elements of the Experience Jasper Avenue project should be funded and constructed.