After months of public debate over proposals on how to make a future LRT track work on Edmonton’s Stony Plain Road, the city’s urban planning committee approved a final concept plan for the project on Tuesday.
“The scope of this project is set,” Mayor Don Iveson said. “We know exactly how it’s going to work.”
How to allow for the use of both public and private vehicles on the west end thoroughfare has been the subject of fairly intense public and political debate over the past few months. The ultimate plan rejected a contentious proposal to see Stony Plain Road become a one-way street for personal vehicles between 149 Street and 156 Street.
Personal vehicles will continue to be able to travel in both directions, although it will result in somewhat of a tight squeeze.
The deputy city manager said he believes allowing traffic to continue to flow freely in both directions will present less chance of hardship for area businesses.
“If you mix it, and you get activity going both ways, you create a greater opportunity for activity on both sides,” Adam Laughlin said.
Watch below: In July 2018, Vinesh Pratap filed this report as people were weighing in on how to ensure traffic along Stony Plain Road flows smoothly once the LRT goes through.
Councillor Andrew Knack had previously expressed concerns about the how crammed the road would be upon integrating street traffic and light-rail transit in the area. However, on Monday, he indicated his worries had been alleviated.
The sidewalks are expected to be narrower by about two feet.
Before the two-way traffic plan was approved, the president of the West Jasper-Sherwood Community League pleaded with the committee to not go with the one-way plan.
“It’ll be a disaster for the area, I’m sorry to say,” Irene Blain said.
After the two-way traffic plan was adopted, Blain expressed some relief to reporters.
“We all knew that we had to have the two-way [traffic].”
However, she said she was still concerned about the LRT route and the construction it requires and how it may potentially impact business in the area.
“They have an uphill battle right now with the construction of the LRT,” Blain said. “They’re going to be having to deal with three or four years where they’re going to have very limited customers. So once that’s complete, we have to ensure that they have accessibility from all modes of travel.
“Right now, we have much better accessibility the way it exists.”
Iveson said he believes the final plan addresses concerns and leaves enough room on the street for everyone.
“In great cities in the world with transit like this, that’s still plenty of room,” he said.
“I wish it was wider but, it’s not worth sacrificing the traffic flow in order to make the sidewalks a little bit wider.”
Watch below: In June 2018, Kim Smith filed this report about how LRT plans for west Edmonton may affect trees in the area.
The final plan will result in no parking spots for vehicles on the seven-block stretch of Stony Plain Road, however, the urban planning committee indicated it believes there will be sufficient parking available on side streets.
Earlier in the year, the idea of reducing the stretch of Stony Plain Road to one-way traffic to accommodate LRT had been floated after city council voted to keep the intersection at 149 Street “at grade” in order to save $160 million.
Watch below: In March 2018, Vinesh Pratap filed this report about criticism being levelled at Edmonton’s West LRT plan.
At the time, the Stony Plain Road and Area Business Association had been lobbying to have the trains run up the middle so vehicles could continue to access businesses on both sides of the street. At the time, however, the city was exploring whether to create a one-way street for the several blocks in order to keep parking spots available on the other side of the street.
Iveson sounded optimistic about securing funding for the city’s LRT plans in the west end now that its traffic strategy is in place.
“We have everything we need to move ahead and get into procurement except for one other thing, which is funding, which we’re third and goal on very productive conversations with the provincial government on funding for this,” he said. “So hopefully we’ll have something soon.”
–With files from 630 CHED’s Scott Johnston and Global News’ Vinesh Pratap