Ottawa

Barrhaven roads a disaster, residents say

Residents who live south of the Jock River in Barrhaven are frustrated by the poor state of the roads in their booming area.

Coun. Jan Harder says she feels like MacGyver finding routes for residents to travel

People who live in Barrhaven are frustrated by the state of Cambrian Road, which sees a lot of heavy vehicles working on nearby residential developments. (submitted by Karina Bech)

Residents who live south of the Jock River in Barrhaven are frustrated by the poor state of the roads in their booming area.

Their city councillor, Jan Harder, shares their frustration and said she feels like MacGyver — the problem-solving television character — trying to work with city staff and developers to find fixes.

"I facetiously say, 'Are we just going to start flying people out of Barrhaven?'" she said.

The immediate issue is Cambrian Road, a main artery residents say is filled with ruts and gravel, partly from heavy construction vehicles working on nearby developments.

"The road is in terrible shape. You have to drive way below the speed limit or you're going to hit your head on the roof of your car," said Brent Pollard, who lives in the Half Moon Bay subdivision.

People are scraping the bottoms of their cars on Cambrian.- Karina Bech, Half Moon Bay resident

Of the three arterial roads in and out of Half Moon Bay, two have construction.

Residents are often at the whim of developers with no hard deadlines, said Karina Bech, who has lived there since 2011.

"We're the ones who are spending all of our time driving on these horrendous roads," she said.

"People are scraping the bottoms of their cars on Cambrian. People are bending their sway bars. People have broken their rims."

Spring and summer traffic woes

There may be a quick fix for Cambrian. In a couple of weeks, when spring load restrictions are lifted, Harder said Taggart Construction will repave it.

But then Harder anticipates more pain for the area's 35,000 people.

Residents in Barrhaven south of the Jock River, especially in the Half Moon Bay subdivision, have been struggling with roads that haven't kept pace with the more than 30,000 people now living in the area. More development is taking place nearby. (Google Maps)

Plans had been in the works for years to realign Greenbank Road slightly to the west and widen it.

The $80-million project has been pushed off for another decade so the city could instead widen Strandherd Drive starting late this year. 

Homes in the area were built based on that big Greenbank project helping to deal with the anticipated traffic.

Pollard said he was told when he bought his house that the road realignment would happen "soon," only to learn it was more than a decade away.

The "rickety, crappy" bridge over the Jock River on Greenbank is in poor shape and will be closed in July and August anyway for work, said Harder.

Long-term solutions

This isn't a matter of a few problems coming to a head at once, but a permanent strain and juggling act, according to Harder.

Barrhaven not only has several two-lane country roads never intended to take such volumes of traffic, but developers and city crews often need closures and detours to install pipes or do other work.

Barrhaven Coun. Jan Harder listens during a committee meeting May 10, 2019. (Laura Osman/CBC)

Harder sees two solutions.

One, she's working with MPPs to try to get a second interchange on Highway 416.

She points out that Barrhaven has only a single entry point to a 400-series highway, on Strandherd, unlike Kanata or Orléans.

Secondly, Harder is trying to speed up the big Greenbank Road project by asking that new homes pay a development charge specific to Barrhaven, much like the one being collected in Riverside South so the Trillium Line can extend into that area.

But Bech remains frustrated that homes in Half Moon Bay paid development charges she sees only going toward LRT or Strandherd Drive.

"Where is all that money going?" asked Bech, noting houses are popping up around Barrhaven approved by the planning committee her councillor chairs.

"We are now going to be left behind with failing and poor infrastructure because the money that was supposed to go to [Half Moon Bay] went elsewhere."

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