A stretch of road along the southwest Calgary community of Oakridge has residents speaking out and hoping for action from the city to address traffic concerns.
90 Avenue S.W. is not a new road in the area, but it is a new connection to the latest stretch of the ring road that opened on Oct. 1, 2020.
Growing traffic volumes and speeding vehicles are increasingly becoming concerns for those in the community.
“Since the ring road went in, that access has really changed the volume and the speed of traffic,” said Tyler Huggins, who has lived in Oakridge for six years. “People are driving on the ring road at 100 (km/h) — 110 (km/h) even — and we’re very close to that, so there isn’t a lot of time for that mental adjustment to get yourself down to that 60 (km/h) zone.”
While the connector is welcome because it cuts down on commute times and allows access to other amenities, speed and traffic are issues that many in the community predicted when the connection to Tsuut’ina Trail was being discussed.
“One of the questions I kept asking was safety on 90 Avenue, and I never got an answer from anybody about how they were going to allow people to cross safely,” said Barry Pendergast with the Oakridge Seniors’ Association.
“They said, ‘Oh it’s no problem at all,’ and of course, we’re seeing that problem.”
However, 60 km/h may still be too quick a speed on the roadway, residents said.
That’s because South Glenmore Park sits on the other side of 90 Avenue S.W. from Oakridge.
The park is a popular spot with several amenities for kids and seniors in the neighbourhood like the cycle pump-track, a spray park and walking trails.
According to the Oakridge Seniors’ Association, 33 per cent of residents in Oakridge are over the age of 60, and crossing the roadway has become an issue with only one controlled crossing on 90 Avenue between the ring road and 24 Street S.W.
“One of the issues for seniors is you’ve got to be able to walk fast to get across this road, and many of our seniors have walking sticks (or) they’re in wheelchairs,” Pendergast said. “Many of them are actually really quite frightened to attempt to go across here. Isn’t that sad?”
There has been a push among those living in the area to get action from city hall on the issue.
Residents told Global News they would like to see more controlled crossings and signage to help get drivers to slow down. They also want to see other traffic measures implemented help keep those crossing safe.
Ward 11 councillor Jeromy Farkas said his office has been working with residents to craft a notice of motion to highlight and address the safety concerns.
“I think we need to do this now because we know it’s been a problem for quite some time. We can’t wait and see and wait for something bad to happen,” Farkas said. “We need to act now so we can avoid tragedy.”
Farkas’ notice of motion, which passed at this week’s marathon council meeting, called for city administration to work with the community to find ideas to reduce risk on ring road connectors like 90 Avenue and Fish Creek Boulevard, as well as to conduct traffic studies and mitigation plans for the area.
Residents said the hope is the process is accelerated as more sections of the ring road are set to open later this year, bringing with it the possibility for more traffic on the street.
“Delay just means more chance for an accident,” Huggins said.
According to the city, a report on the issue is expected to be presented to the transit and transportation committee on Sept. 1.