St. James residents rail against new roundabout near industrial park
Residents concerned about safety, traffic flow will get chance to air grievances at public meeting
St. James residents are hopping mad about city plans to replace a four-way stop with a roundabout on Murray Park Road.
The plan, which was approved by city council in 2014, will have a roundabout installed at Sturgeon Road, Silver Avenue and Murray Park. Construction has already begun, but residents in the area say they weren't consulted.
"We learned about it when we saw stakes go in the ground," said Nancy Ellen Noren, who lives nearby and started a petition to stop the roundabout from being constructed. "We're going to have a constant flow of traffic so during rush hour not only will we not be able to leave our residences because there will be no gap in traffic — how are people going to get to the recreational areas?"
About 40 people turned out to air their grievances at the corner Wednesday night.
Among their concerns — area Coun. Scott Gillingham didn't know about the project.
"This is a project that I, as well as Coun. [Shawn] Dobson inherited," said Gillingham, adding the roundabout straddles their two wards. "I really found out about the project quite a bit later once the stakes were in the ground."
Gillingham said he's set up public meetings with the city's public works department so community members can ask questions.
Next month, he also plans to meet with Coun. Dobson and business owners in the nearby Murray Industrial Park.
"It is important that the public have the opportunity to express their concerns and have their questions answered about this project," said Gillingham.
Noren said the roundabout is a hazard, and more significant traffic interventions are needed at the corner.
"How are we going to cross the street safely? What if someone slips on a bike? What if someone careens through the roundabout and hits a bicycle?" said Noren. "It's really dangerous, and we don't want that here."
Officials with the city said the project was approved after a 2011 report recommended the roundabout be built to ease traffic delays, lower fuel emissions and improve safety.
"One of the residents' main concerns is that it be a safe intersection, and the intersection can handle the increased traffic that is projected as the CentrePort lands in the coming years," said Gillingham. "Will this intersection handle larger traffic volumes? Will it handle the Murray Park industrial traffic?"
A spokesperson for the city pointed to a study from the U.S. Federal Highway Administration that found roundabouts show significant safety improvements over four-way stops or traffic signals. The administration's most recent study found total crash reductions of 35 per cent, while crashes where people were injured were cut down by 76 per cent.
As for the group's concerns about the grasslands in the area being affected by the construction, city officials said they have strategies in place to minimize the damage, and they preserved many of the plants and seeds before construction was started.
Resident Jeff Broughton said he doesn't have a problem with the CentrePort development, but he doesn't want the roundabout.
"It's just something that's not needed and we weren't told about," he said. "I think it's very crazy."
He wants traffic rerouted up Moray Street to Saskatchewan Avenue instead.
Residents will have a chance to get information about the project and express their concerns at a public information meeting on Sept. 14.