Safety review incoming after Bridgeland neighbourhood sign loses another letter

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Safety review incoming after a Calgary neighbourhood’s sign loses another letter
The Bridgeland sign is down two letters after another hit-and-run crash. As Adam MacVicar reports, community leaders say it's a sign there needs to be improvements for pedestrian safety in the area. – Feb 1, 2023

A sign marking the entrance to Bridgeland is down another letter, and the incident has prompted the City of Calgary to step in to assess traffic safety in the area.

A crash during Friday’s snowstorm demolished the ‘N’ on the Hollywood-inspired sign, but the driver fled the scene.

The sign, in the northeast community of Bridgeland, has taken a couple hits over the last year which has resulted in two missing letters. Global News

Calgary Police said it is investigating the incident and they haven’t found any suspects.

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It was an eerily similar scene last April when a vehicle jumped the curb and brought down the ‘D’; the hit-and-run resulted in charges against the driver.

The shrinking sign, at the intersection of Memorial Drive and 9 Street N.E., has become the butt of many jokes about the neighbourhood’s name.

“We now refer to the neighbourhood as Bridgla instead of Bridgeland,” Bridgeland-Riverside Community Association president Alex MacWilliam told Global News.

The ‘Bridgeland’ sign is shown near the intersection of Memorial Drive and 9 Street N.E. after its second ‘D’ was hit by a driver on April 20, 2022. Global News

Now the focus has shifted from just fixing the memorable sign to making the entire area safer for the people who walk there.

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MacWilliam said pedestrian safety is a concern at the intersection with many people walking back and forth to the LRT station, several apartment buildings, and a nearby daycare.

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“Traffic just comes off (Memorial Drive) at too high a rate of speed… even though it was icy, this just illustrated the problem,” MacWilliam said.

“We’re just concerned the next time it won’t be a sign, it’ll be a person.”

In a statement to Global News, the City of Calgary said it would be initiating a safety review at the intersection to determine what action needs to be taken.

“In the meantime, we’d like to remind motorists to adapt their habits to winter driving conditions by slowing down and leaving more room to stop,” the city’s statement said. “Take care at trouble spots that include hills, curves, bridge decks, and intersections.”

Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra, who represents the northeast Calgary neighbourhood, said there were improvements completed five years ago to tighten the curve and encourage drivers to slow down.

“We rebuilt it so people would have to be more thoughtful and slow the hell down as they came up to the neighbourhood,” Carra said.

“Interestingly enough, when the sign has been taken out it’s when weather is inclement.”

The metal and wooden temporary sign has been in place since 2019, using funds donated from the developer of a new building in the neighbourhood, with the Bridgeland-Riverside Community Association taking the responsibility of maintaining the sign.

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According to Carra, there are three options for the sign’s future: rebuild it as-is, rebuild the sign as a permanent “bollard” structure, or remove the sign entirely.

“I would like the sign returned, I could live with it if it remained a breakaway feature,” Carra said. “I would appreciate if it was built to protect the pedestrians of the neighbourhood.”

MacWilliam said the community association was in the process of repairing the ‘D’ with a contractor, but the latest incident involving the ‘N’ has put those repairs on hold.

The situation is further complicated by a fire at the community hall late last year, which has created some financial challenges for the Bridgeland-Riverside Community Association.

But the sign taking hits over the last year has been a source of “community spirit”, MacWilliam said, with everything from jokes to somebody dressing up as the ‘D’ for Halloween last year.

“The amount of bad puns and various other things that came out of it was really a good illustration of our neighbourhood.”

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