A group of View Royal residents wants to install a barrier arm to keep commuter traffic from cutting through residential streets.
The problem stems from drivers avoiding the intersection at Helmcken Road and Island Highway, resident Karen McGrath said. Instead, they make an illegal left turn onto Rudyard Road, then turn right on Stormont Road to get to the Island Highway.
It isn’t a new problem, but residents fear it will only get worse as construction on the McKenzie interchange increases commute times.
“There’s been no solution. And that shouldn’t be carried on the shoulders of people living on residential streets,” said McGrath, who lives on Rudyard Road, overlooking the View Royal Elementary School field.
Late Monday morning, Rudyard was very quiet — a contrast to the early-morning rush hour, when residents say they have trouble getting out of their driveways because of the speed and volume of traffic in the 30 km/h zone.
“It is insane here in the morning,” McGrath said.
The town has installed speed bumps and a sign alerting drivers that turning left onto Rudyard is illegal during morning rush hour, but McGrath said they aren’t working. She said West Shore RCMP haven’t ticketed illegal turners in the past year, which the police deny.
The residents, who will make a presentation to council tonight, are proposing two single-lane barrier arms near the mouth of Rudyard at Helmcken. The arms would be lowered between 6:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. Residents would have technology to open the gate, as would first responders. They estimate the project would cost $15,000.
McGrath said she has collected 74 signatures in favour of the project.
But View Royal Mayor David Screech said he has reservations.
The traffic issue has been studied by council since 2001. View Royal went through a comprehensive public-consultation process 18 months ago, he said. Residents voted on three options, including turning Rudyard Road into a dead end.
“At the end of the day, the option the majority of the residents chose was just to keep the status quo. So I think it’s a bit early to reopen the issue,” he said.
“I also have fundamental concerns about the idea of gating a public road,” he said. Those concerns include access for emergency vehicles and the precedent it would set.
Screech said he would still be open to the dead-end option, but said residents at the time weren’t interested in limiting their own mobility.
West Shore RCMP spokesman Const. Alex Bérubé said police do issue tickets at that intersection.
The detachment doesn’t have a dedicated traffic unit, so enforcement happens when time permits. Typically, however, high-risk intersections where ICBC data show the most collisions occur take top priority.
“Ultimately, the goal of traffic enforcement is to reduce casualties,” Bérubé said. “When time and resources permit, officers will be enforcing the illegal turn onto Rudyard.”
Other municipalities have also been challenged with calming traffic on residential roads, as commuters look for short cuts. In 2007, the District of Saanich erected a barrier on North Road, near Interurban and Wilkinson roads. Several years earlier, it also blocked access to several side streets from Lansdowne to prevent drivers from seeking a short cut onto Shelbourne. In 2001, the City of Victoria erected concrete barriers to stop motorists from using eight Jubilee-area side streets as through roads.
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