Residents concerned about volume of cars

The southwest community of Signal Hill is experiencing some changes that could negatively impact traffic flow in the area.

The intersection of Sierra Morena Boulevard and Sierra Morena Road has gone from having a four-way stop to having two traffic circles, which are designed to handle 10,000 cars per day, but now average around 21,000 or more cars per day.

“The reality is that yes, the cars have slowed down, but the issue that we have in the neighbourhood is the volume,” Simon Batcup, president of the Signal Hill Community Association said.

Sierra Morena Boulevard and Sierra Morena Road are located right beside the Westhills Shopping Centre and the Signal Hill Shopping Centre. For Signal Hill residents, going through their neighbourhood is the easiest way to get to the malls.

The issue, according to Batcup and other residents, is that communities west of Signal Hill like Discovery Ridge use this route as well, causing the traffic volume to increase.

Manuel Mertin, a member of the Signal Hill traffic committee, said the connection from Sierra Morena Road by 34th Avenue to the intersection of 34th Street and 69th Avenue was supposed to be a temporary access route only, but it is from that street where much of the traffic comes from.

“When they put the traffic circles in, it eased the flow; it alleviated some problems in terms of noise because there’s less stop and start, but it allowed the volume of traffic to increase,” said Mertin. “Now we have been advocating for several solutions to it, and it just keeps on getting worse. It will come to the point where it just gets totally plugged.”

Domenic Bracci, a Signal Hill resident who has been living in the area since 1992, said he doesn’t use his front or back yards because of the noise pollution.

Residents living on Sierra Morena Road or Sierra Morena Boulevard in the southwest community of Signal Hill see over 21,000 cars daily on roads that can only handle under 10,000 daily.
Photo by: Anna Majowski
“We’ve had three aldermen come through in the past four or five years, and they promise a lot, but nothing ever gets done,” he said. “I cross the street often and you have to be very careful. I’ve had close calls, especially with my bike trying to cross and people won’t stop. So that’s an issue.”

Bracci, along with many other residents living on the two streets, held a protest last summer where they walked on the cross walks and blocked the traffic. He said police were there to help the protesters because there were a lot of “angry people.”

“We were told afterwards that what we were doing was illegal, and that police were not going to tolerate that. We had signs up saying, ‘How would you like 20,000 cars a day going by your house?’ but the signs were stolen,” Bracci said.

Ward 6 Ald. Richard Pootmans said an important part of improving the traffic issue in Signal Hill is to understand what the cause of the problem is and to fix it. He suggested the cause might be that the network roads like Highway 8, 17th Avenue and Sarcee Trail are “not performing very well,” said Pootmans.

“One of the solutions we’ve been very close to is the third lane you could add to Highway 8,” he explained. “However, it would be what we call a ‘throwaway investment,’ because when the ring road is to be built we would not be able to use any of the third lanes. We’re considering the third lane option very seriously and we hope to have an answer early in the New Year or sometime next year.”

Pootmans acknowledges those individuals who are in favor of the third lane option and those who question whether it is a good use of taxpayers’ money. Anyone who has questions, concerns or would like to support it is free to contact his office.

However, Batcup of the Signal Hill Community Association is not so convinced.

“If there were easy solutions they would have been done,” he said. “Improvement in the network roads are what we are looking for … and we are going to have to advertise to people that there are better ways of getting around than going through the neighbourhoods.”

amajowski@cjournal.ca