McBride-Sapperton Residents’ Association Traffic issues

There are a number of traffic issues that have been raised and discussed by the McBride-Sapperton Residents’ Association over the years. This is a list of some of the issues and their status to date.

If you have any input or corrections on any of the issues or information on a new issue, please advise Geoff and I will update the page.

Some of the issues are:

* Truck Traffic on 8th Ave. East,
* Crosswalks,
* Speed Hump installation program,
* Traffic calming,
* Road construction,
* Parking,
* Speeding and ignoring the rules of the road, and
* Lighting.

Truck Traffic on 8th Ave. East
Truck traffic on 8th Ave. East has long been an issue for the McBride-Sapperton Residents’ Association (MSRA) and the Massey Victory Heights Residents’ Association (MVHRA).

On 10 Feb 2006, the MSRA wrote a letter requesting that 8th Ave. East and Columbia St. East removed as designated truck routes.

On 10 Feb 2006, the MSRA wrote a letter requesting until such time as East 8th Ave. is removed as a designated truck route, bylaw No. 6562, 1999 and the time restrictions governing the hours that trucks may use Columbia St. East and Braid/8th Ave. East be enforced.

On 15 May 2006, the MVHRA wrote three page letter ( Page 1, Page 2, Page 3 ) to the City supporting the MSRA request to remove 8th Ave. East as a truck route. A number of other items of concern to the MVHRA residents were also raised in the letter, which will take some time to be addressed, if in fact the City takes any action at all.

One of the intersections of most concern is 8th Ave. East and Cumberland. The MVHRA requested crash incident data from ICBC on this intesection and there was an astounding 195 crashes at this one intersection between 1996 and 2005!

Pedestrian activated crosswalk at East Columbia St. and Hospital St.
While there is an existing crosswalk at this intersection, traffic did not always stop for pedestrians and the MSRA felt that some form of a pedestrian activated illuminated crossing is essential because of the proximity to the Royal Columbian Hospital and the elderly population in the area. The speed limit in this location is 30kph but not many cars drive that slowly. Both the visibility of the existing crosswalk signage and people in the crosswalk are obscured by the truck loading bay on the west side and vehicles parked on the east side.

Current status:
A letter was sent to Mark Allison on 15 Jan 2004 requesting the installation of a pedestrian activated crosswalk at this location. He responded in a letter dated 25 Feb 2004 which essentially stated there was no funding available for this in 2004.

As of Nov 2004, the MSRA actively pursed the installation of a pedestrian activated crosswalk at this location with the City Planning department and the Mayor.

The issue was brought up by Mark Allison in the 8 Nov 2004 Committe of the Whole meeting, but he discussed putting a median with a pedestrian safety area in the middle. This work is in the queue after a pedestrian activated light at 6th St. and Queens Ave. Apparently the cost of the flashing lights is $5,000 and the median is another $5,000.

Construction of the traffic island was started in the week of 28 Mar 2005 and was complete and operational by 15 Apr 2005.

Crosswalk across East Columbia St. / North Road near the Brunette River.
A pedestrian activated crosswalk was approved as part of the Brunette-Fraser Regional Greeway and is jointly funded by the GVRD, Burnaby and New Westminster. The greenway was completed in the summer of 2003.

Current status:
The crosswalk was installed in the fall of 2003.

Request for pedestrian activated crosswalks on East 8th Ave.
A Sapperton resident was killed a few years ago crossing East 8th Ave. Residents have brought crosswalk safety up as a concern at many MSRA public meetings. The two locations of particular concern were at Richmond St. and at Buchanan St.

Current status:
A letter was sent to Mark Allison on 15 Jan 2004 requesting the installation of a pedestrian activated crosswalk at these locations. He responded in a letter dated 25 Feb 2004 which essentially stated there was no funding available for this, but there were possibly going to be upgrades to the pedestrian underpass at Richmond St. in the 2004 year. Some improvements were done to the pedestrian underpass before February 2005. Roger Emanuels wrote “The north entrance to the tunnel was rebuilt as it had been identified as a safety concern as part of the review of City structures. The City has no plans for any additional pedestrian improvements at this location at this point in time. A pedestrian signal was proposed at this location if the tunnel was to be permanently closed.”

Other locations.
Some examples of recently installed safe pedestrian crosswalks are as follows:

The crosswalk in front of Canada Games Pool has a pedestrian island in the middle and wide painted lines. It is unfortunate that it is located right at a bus stop.

Crosswalk in front of Canada Games Pool.

The crosswalk across Cumberland St. at 7th Ave. has orange flashers at each side. It is very effective at stopping traffic.

Crosswalk at Cumberland St. at 7th Ave.

Traffic Calming
Traffic calming in Lower Sapperton
The residents of lower Sapperton have long been plagued with traffic short-cutting through their neighbourhood. To remedy this situation a number of residents, members of the McBride Sapperton Residents’ Association and business representatives worked with the City’s traffic planner, Mark Allison, to investigate some possible solutions to these issues. Mr. Allison presented three possible scenarios and City Council approved the “light version” of the Sapperton Traffic Calming Plan on the 28th of August, 2000 which included traffic circles and a traffic island on Sherbrooke St. On November 28th, 2000 a resident, who had not opted to participate in the traffic calming group formed by Mr. Allison, complained about some of the measures that had been implemented. On February 19th, 2001 Council approved a neighbourhood survey of the Lower Sapperton neighbourhood to determine whether the interim traffic calming measures should remain, be removed or be enhanced. In response to the complaint and the Sapperton Traffic Calming Survey the City’s engineering department recommended, and Council approved, that the trial implementation of the Lower Sapperton Traffic Calming Plan be enhanced by the addition of two speed humps on Garrett Street and one speed hump each on Kelly and Fader Streets. These were intended to address neighborhood concerns stemming from the high volume of traffic flowing through the neighbourhood to and from Royal Columbian Hospital and to restrict residents of other cities rat racing through Lower Sapperton.

Current status:
For the last two years the McBride Sapperton Residents’ Association has asked the engineering department for the very effective “temporary” traffic circles to be made permanent and for them to be “greened”. The traffic circles and speed bumps have been quite successful in slowing the traffic down. Unfortunately, the City did not have the funds to add landscaping to them in the 2001, 2002, 2003 or 2004 calendar years. Before they “green” the traffic circles, the City proposes to resurvey the residents in the spring of 2005 as to whether they are required. When and if the survey comes out, people should remember what the traffic was like before the traffic calming measures were installed. The longtime residents remember (all too well) the high traffic volumes and rat racing through the local residential streets. It is feared that new residents will not have any idea of what the traffic problems were like before, and may vote to remove the traffic calming measures. The MSRA feels there has been enough consultation done on this issue, further public surveys are a waste of the City’s money and resources, and we simply need to get moving on the greening of the traffic circles. This has been an extraordinarily long process and we cannot understand what the holdup has been.

In April 2004, Neil Powell pursued this with Mark Allison, who indicated that “that we’ll have to wait until later in the construction season to confirm funding availability. We generally also have to conduct a survey to make sure that the community wishes the measures to say, which will take some time to organize and there is also concern that if this summer is as hot and dry as last year, it would be better to wait until later in the season to plant. What would be useful to know is whether or not your community would like to “adopt” the traffic circles and do anything special with them or if you would like a standard treatment of a tree and low ground cover. If the community would like to care for the circle, we would probably need a “memorandum of understanding” to be completed by the association.” We are not sure what prompted the suggestion that neighbours tend the traffic circles – does this happen elsewhere in the City, eg Queen’s Park? Probably not. Summer and fall came and went with no action on the City’s part.

On 18 Oct 2004, Neil Powell presented the attached letter at the City Council meeting which summarized the status to date and suggested that the funds recently received by the City from the ICBC Crash Reduction Program be used for these purposes. Council referred the request to staff for later comment. This was picked up in an article in the 20 Oct 2004 NewsLeader. The Record later reported that the funding could not be used for this purpose. On 24 Sep 2004, Mark Allison wrote “we are proposing that in 2005 we use the anticipated annual budget to go back and complete all outstanding trial traffic calming implementations, with Sapperton as the top priority.”

On 13 Sep 2005, Neil Powell received a note from Mark Allison that included “Sorry that the saga has taken so long, but work orders have been issued to complete the traffic circles and centre median with plantings and trees and we expect that the work will completed within a month.”

Finally on 24 Sep 2005, the work on the making the lower Sapperton traffic circles began. They were excavated and water connections made. By mid November, they remained unplanted. The diverter on Sherbrooke Street was filled with concrete as the volume of soil we could put inside it isn’t sufficient to make plants viable. In addition to concrete some delineators north of the diverter will be installed to prevent cars from going the wrong way around it (this is quite common).

The site has a lot of information on traffic calming: what it is, how well it works, etc.

This is an example of what properly landscaped traffic circles could look like:

Traffic calming in Upper Sapperton
The Upper Sapperton (west of East Columbia St.) was initially planned to be done at the same time as the traffic calming in lower Sapperton (west of East Columbia St). Priority was placed on the lower Sapperton traffic calming and for some reason the upper Sapperton traffic calming was put on the back burner. It apparently will be completed after the lower Sapperton traffic calming is finalized.

Current status:
Nothing has been done to date.

Traffic calming in Victory Heights
The Massey-Victory Heights Residents’ Association was formed in 2004 with traffic as a major concern. They are actively pursuing the installation of speed bumps in the neighbourhood.

Current status:
The request for speed bumps on Chilliwack St. was put forward by the MVHRA to Mark Allison via the Traffic Advisory Committee in September 2004.

It was reported in the 6 Jan 2005 MSRA public meeting that the speed bumps have been installed on Chilliwack St.

The MHVRA is requesting additional traffic calming measures, but they have been advised that it will only happen after the lower Sapperton and upper Sapperton traffic calming has been completed.

Road Construction
Rebuilding of the retaining wall on East Columbia St. between Front St. and Cumberland St.
In Sep 2004, the retaining wall along East Columbia St. had to be to rebuild. The curb lane was closed during a portion of the time, causing huge traffic delays coming from the New Westminster direction. The work is proceeding from 22 Sep 2004 to 19 Oct 2004 with the lane closed for only a portion of the time. An article in the 6 Oct 2004 Record explained more.

Stormont Connector
This is a proposal to push McBride Boulevard through Burnaby and hook up with the #1 Freeway at Gaglardi Way. It has been talked about for 20 years or more – ever since the freeway was put in and the Gaglardi interchange built.

Current status:
According to the New Westminster City Transportation Model Project, the opening up of this access would overwhelm the traffic on McBride Blvd., the Pattullo Bridge, 10th Ave., and 6th St. There is overwhelming opposition to the project from residents of Burnaby. It is believed that if this project ever goes ahead, it is many many years away.

United Boulevard Connector
There has always been a connection from Braid St. to United Boulevard. Before Coquitlam built the 4 lane extension to the New Westminster boundary, it was a dirt road. When the Coquitlam portion was built, it was a surprise to New Westminster and New Wesminter proceed to lock the gate just east of the one-lane bailey bridge citing safety concerns.

New Westminster and Coquitlam went court over the issue, with the courts eventually siding with Coquitlam and forcing New Westminster to open the gate.

New Westminster would only agree to open the gate if all the improvements to the north Fraser perimeter road are completed. This includes improvements to the Queensborough bridgehead, a truck turning tunnel southbound on East Columbia St. onto Front St., a second lane northbound on East Columbia St. onto Brunette Ave., and an elevated train and skytrain crossing of United Boulevard and a tee intersection at Brunette Ave.

Current status:
There are up to 10,000 vehicles per day crossing the United Boulevard Connector bridge. The impact on the traffic flows on Braid St. and into New Westminster is unclear. The MSRA is not aware of any traffic counts that have been done to determine the impact of these vehicles and if they are heading up Braid St. and through Sapperton. The bailey bridge was set to get a traffic light on it in June 2004, but when the city reviewed it, it was determined that a light was required both at the bridge and at the intersection at Canfor Ave. This doubled the cost. The cost also has to be split with Coquitlam, who were to discuss it in a meeting in mid-September 2004. The local businesses are extremely frustrated because the volume of traffic has increased enormously.

According to the 20 Oct 2004 NewsLeader, the Transportation department concluded their review on 9 Oct 2004 and prepared a package for Council’s review in October. They have suggested implementing painted areas so motorists don’t block intersections, and right and left turn lanes at the Canfor intersection. Coquitlam is reluctant to help fund the project and New Westminster won’t fund the whole project.

Widening of turn lane at East Columbia and McBride Boulevard
A suggestion to widen the turning lane southbound from East Columbia St. southbound onto McBride Boulevard was denied by the City as it would impact the heritage fence in front of Woodlands. The idea was that truck traffic would be encouraged to use this route in preference to Braid St. / 8th Ave.

Current status:
Faye Olson raised this issue in the Jun 2003 TAC meeting and the response was that it will not proceed.

Parking Restrictions in Lower Sapperton
Parking has been a issue for lower Sapperton for many years. The lack of parking facilities at the hospital led to the neighborhood’s streets being filled with cars. Resident-only parking was fought for and won in lower Sapperton in 2002. It took many years of surveys and lobbying of the City to restrict the parking to residents only. Prior to the restrictions being implemented, people could not park in front of their own houses.

Current status:
Many streets are restricted to resident-only parking. Passes are required for both residents and visitors.

Speeding and ignoring the rules of the road
Speeding in Sapperton
Speeding through the residential streets and lanes in lower Sapperton has been a real problem for years. Traffic Calming has helped to a certain extent, but it was reported in the August MSRA public meeting that a child had been hit in the lane between Wilson St. and Rouseau St.

Current status:
Residents are encouraged to call the New Westminster Police Service at (604) 525-5411, or try and pursue the City to install speed bumps in the lane by filling out The City of New Westminster Action Request Form.

Ignoring the stop sign in front of McBride School at Richmond St. and Hospital St.
This three-way intersection is very busy in rush hour and it has been observed that very few people actually stop here.

The MSRA has brought this up repeatedly with New Westminster’s Traffic Advisory Committee and the New Westminster Police Service, and asked for increased enforcement.

Current status:
Residents are encouraged to call the New Westminster Police Service at (604) 525-5411.

Speed Hump installation program
Speed Hump installation program
Burnaby has a program where if 2/3rd of a street’s residents are in agreement to have speed humps installed, the City will install the speed humps and charge the residents by the linear foot on property taxes over 5 years.

In 2004, the MSRA requested via the Traffic Advisory Committee, that the City of New Westminster investigate and adopt a similar policy.

Current status:
Kevin Little and Ken McIntosh pursued this issue. Concerns have been expressed regarding people speeding down alleys and to whether this program would cover alleys as well. Councillor Cook has advised that there already was a program in the City to put speed humps in alleys.

In the 27 Sep 2004 Regular Meeting of City Council it was carried “THAT staff bring forward information to Council on Burnaby’s Volunteer Speed Hump and Speed Bump Program and a recommendation on the advisability and applicability of applying this program to New Westminster.”

In the 18 Oct 2004 Transportation Committee meeting, it was carried that “this Committee recommends THAT New Westminster include speed humps as a service covered under the existing Local Improvement Program with a City share of 0% where these measures meet technical criteria and would not shift traffic to other local streets.” This was carried in the 18 Oct 2004 Regular Meeting of City Council.

Request for lighting improvments at East Columbia St. and Ward St.
The crosswalk across East Columbia Street just north of Ward Street is not very well lit and is therefore dangerous to use in the dark or in wet weather. Residents have brought crosswalk safety up as a concern at many MSRA public meetings. At this location, the curb bulges do help, but waiting for a break in the speeding traffic is a frustrating experience. Again, we believe that a pedestrian activated warning light of some form would be appropriate. As a minimum, an increased level of illumination at this location is required.

Current status:
A letter was sent to Mark Allison on 15 Jan 2004 requesting the installation of a pedestrian activated crosswalks on other streets and improved lighting at this location. He responded in a letter dated 25 Feb 2004 which essentially stated there was no funding available for this.

Some other issues to eventually include:

– Left turn bay westbound on Braid St. at East Columbia St. – no because it restricts traffic into Sapperton.
– Abutments on East Columbia St. and on 8th Ave.

If you have any traffic concerns in Sapperton and would like to add them to this list, please contact Geoff Pinkerton.