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Edmonton traffic down 50%, pothole work and street sweeping underway with COVID-19 adjustments

City of Edmonton street sweeping, pothole strategy amid COVID-19
WATCH ABOVE: With spring here, City of Edmonton staff are still filling potholes and sweeping streets but a lot has changed under COVID-19, including the amount of speeding police are observing. Fletcher Kent explains.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of people’s lives, and it’s even affecting how the City of Edmonton cleans, maintains and even spaces the roads.

On Friday morning, the city gave an update on pothole repair, traffic safety, how to safely find your space outside as the weather gets warmer and street sweeping.

Pothole repair

As the weather warms up, crews are able to get out and fill potholes. This year, traffic volume has dropped as much as 50 per cent, allowing crews to work quicker and more efficiently.

Compared to last year, this spring crews have filled six per cent more potholes. Crews filled 9,863 potholes between April 12 and 19, bringing the yearly total to more than 64,000 repairs. That’s 4,000 more than last year.

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READ MORE: Edmonton road crews have filled more than 15,000 potholes this year

Edmontonians are encouraged to continue to call 311 and use the 311 app to report pothole locations.

Traffic Safety

Both the city and the Edmonton Police Service have observed excessive speeding and have received complaints of excessive vehicle noise. While that typically comes with this time of year, the city is asking drivers to stop as it can have a negative public health impact at a time when so many are already dealing stress and anxiety.

“Vehicle noise can be reduced by consistently driving at safe speeds,” Jessica Lamarre, acting director of traffic safety said.

Police have noted a few times in recent weeks how speeding has increased and on Tuesday, announced it was ramping up enforcement.

READ MORE: Driver clocked at 200 km/h on Henday; Edmonton police ‘stepping up’ traffic enforcement

Staying safe while spending time outside

In an effort to allow people safe space to physically distance while outside, the city closed down one lane to traffic on Saskatchewan Drive and Victoria Promenade in early April to allow pedestrians and cyclists extra space.

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According to Olga Messinis, director of traffic operations, the city is looking at other areas to bring in similar measures.

“We’re targeting the highest density areas of the city first and we’re moving through an approach of expanding sidewalks where there is that demonstrated demand on that space, and then we are moving into more of the lower-volume residential neighbourhoods where we can apply shared streets.”

Edmonton adjusts roads, pedestrian call buttons to promote physical distancing
Edmonton adjusts roads, pedestrian call buttons to promote physical distancing

Speed limits in those areas have also been lowered, though the act of reducing one lane of traffic has also made those areas safer for pedestrians, Lamarre said.

“It’s a positive benefit of reducing a lane or narrowing a road that our cars slow down and move more safely through that space.”

READ MORE: Edmonton city council to vote on amendments to 2020 budget amid COVID-19 shortfall

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Street sweeping

By the time Edmonton street sweeping crews are done, they will have cleaned about 15,000 kilometres of road space — or roughly the distance of driving from Edmonton to Montreal and back again, twice.

With more people at home due to the pandemic, Andrew Grant, general supervisor of infrastructure field operations, said the city’s strategy to get the streets cleaned stays the same, but how they’re using staff is changing.

“Understanding that sometimes maybe putting out all the A-frame signs isn’t the best use of our time, just considering the traffic volume parked in those areas and just identifying what areas can be done with efficiency and then moving those big, no park signs through the residential areas.”

READ MORE: Edmonton to start street cleaning on Monday

Grant said residents have been good about moving their vehicles when crews are in their neighbourhood and just asks Edmontonians to continue to check the city’s website for when crews are scheduled to be in their area.