View Royal neighbours’ patience tried by traffic tieups

Residents of a View Royal neighbourhood are taking their frustration over short cut-seeking morning commuters to council next week.

The installation of a no left turn sign at Rudyard Road for drivers travelling along Helmcken Road toward Island Highway was one of several measures taken 10 years ago to reduce cut-through traffic on Rudyard road.

Residents of Rudyard and Stormont roads in View Royal are taking their frustration over short cut-seeking morning commuters to council next week.

Tired of drivers heading toward Esquimalt and Victoria illegally turning left off Helmcken Road onto Rudyard between 6:30 and 8:15 a.m., rather than lining up to turn left onto Island Highway at the light, they’re taking an idea for a time-controlled barrier arm system to council for next Tuesday’s meeting.

“It’s a massive problem that’s been going on for years,” said Karen McGrath, who lives on Rudyard Road. Not only are the illegal left turns irritating, she said, the extra traffic makes it difficult for residents of the streets to get out of their driveways in the morning.

With resource-strapped West Shore RCMP only giving the issue minimal attention, she said, and the Town of View Royal having heard about the issue various times in recent years – an open house discussion in March 2015 led council to remain with the status quo – neighbours began researching other solutions than policing the area.

Five or six months of investigating options led the residents group to a system which uses a barrier arm on both sides of the street. People exiting Rudyard onto Helmcken would trigger the arm on the right to go up, McGrath said, while the arm would stay down on the opposite side for the duration of the left turn prohibition.

The cost of the arms is said to be approximately $15,000 each, McGrath said.

A recent petition circulated around the wider neighbourhood collected 113 names, of which McGrath said 86 people wanted to see further action taken on the matter.

The cutting through the neighbourhood of commuter traffic has been a source of concern for residents for more than 10 years. Back in 2005 and 2006, the Town took several measures to cut down down on the practise.

Speed humps were installed on Rudyard and Stormont roads, the pedestrian crosswalk at Stormont and Island Highway was converted into a fully signalized intersection, and a regulatory sign prohibiting left turns from 6:30 to 8:15 a.m. Monday to Friday was put up at the corner of Rudyard and Helmcken roads.

The illegal turns have continued unabated, and while the RCMP conducts sporadic enforcement at the corner, McGrath said, many drivers turn illegally anyway if the officer is busy writing someone else a ticket.

The Town held a public open house in March 2015 to revisit the issue and came away without a further solution.

“I think we just went through a very public process in regards to Rudyard and Stormont,” said Mayor David Screech. “The residents had the opportunity to weigh in with their opinions and the majority chose the status quo. I am not interested in opening the issue again so soon.”

He added that he has difficulties with the idea of gating a public road, even if it is only at certain times of day. He worries that taking such an action would set a “terrible precedent” and could potentially make access difficult for emergency responders and other vehicles needing access.

Some residents, including McGrath, voiced their concerns about traffic in the neighbourhood last month when council was discussing a residential development project on the former fire hall building site on Island Highway.

Residents spoke to the potential for further traffic congestion on their residential street if vehicles emerging from the apartment complex are forced to turn right only. They pointed out that drivers heading into town would likely turn right onto Helmcken, then right on Rudyard and again at Stormont, from which they could turn left onto Island Highway at the light at the top of Four Mile Hill.

McGrath said she and others fear what the situation may look like once construction on the McKenzie interchange gets going in earnest.

Tuesday’s meeting gets underway at 7 p.m. at the Town Hall, 45 View Royal Ave.

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