Nutana residents looking to take a shortcut to the freeway only have a few more months to do so, as city council voted Monday in favour of a trial closure of 9th Street at the Idylwyld Drive on-ramp.
The closure will take effect when the new Traffic Bridge opens in the fall, and will last for a year.
Council heard Monday from residents on 9th Street who wanted the road closed because of reported speeding and shortcutting. Meanwhile, people living on McPherson Avenue came to city hall to oppose the closure.
“We legitimately remain concerned for the safety of the residents in the area from people driving too fast to the on-ramp,” said Darren Inglis-McQuay, who lives on the stretch of 9th St. between McPherson Avenue and Idylwyld Drive.
“It happens all the time.”
The decision on the test comes three years after council initially decided to close the right turn access to the on-ramp, then reversed their vote months later after a petition against it was presented to councillors.
Administration came back with another recommendation to close off the access after a public survey distributed to 66 homes in the area saw 33 responses: 22 in favour and 11 against.
Of the 15 people who responded on the 100 block of 9th Street and 1000 block of Lorne Avenue, 13 supported the closure. Seven people who lived on McPherson Ave. between 8th and 9th St. responded, with five opposing the closure.
However, more than a dozen people showed up to Monday’s council meeting to express concerns that closing the access would lead to more traffic flowing down McPherson Avenue to 8th Street so people could access the freeway.
Ksenija Smiljic, who lives on McPherson Ave., said the decision to block access on 9th Street would protect a small number of homes while “endangering all the other road users that will be forced to use less-equipped streets that lead to intersections with documented and recorded accidents.”
She and others also presented a city-wide petition opposing the closure, signed by dozens of residents.
“It seems like gauging community support is futile if you are not going to listen to what the community is telling you,” Smiljic told councillors.
Another McPherson Ave. resident, Joseph Pfeifer, noted the debacle over the road closure was causing problems in Nutana.
“This issue is causing conflict and negativity, and we need to end it,” he said.
“And I thought three years ago we had ended it. I thought the city had done their homework, had done their research … and showed us there was no danger.”
The administration report noted blocking the 9th Street access to Idylwyld Drive would be consistent with current road engineering standards, which don’t recommend connecting residential streets directly to on-ramps and off-ramps of freeways.
Councillors suggested the problem of taking away a shortcut could be mitigated by the fall opening of the new Traffic Bridge off Victoria Avenue.
Because of that, Ward 6 Coun. Cynthia Block successfully proposed a motion to start the trial closure of 9th St. at Idylwyld Dr. after the bridge opens.
“We can’t fix one problem only to cause another,” she said.
“Balancing the needs of everyone isn’t easy, and while I support this trial I won’t support the closure of any street if it causes undue stress.”
Coun. Ann Iwanchuk and Coun. Troy Davies voted against the closure.